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Eat, Drink, & Be Grateful

This month our nation will experience a tremendous expansion—most of it around the waistline. We all know the consequences of gorging ourselves, but that doesn’t stop us. The good news is, it may not be our fault.

Scientific research has found that pigs (four-legged variety) have been given a bad rap. If placed all by himself with a trough of food, a pig will eat only what he needs. Put the same pig in a pen with other pigs and he will gorge himself. The same research found that this theory also applies to humans. (And, no, the moral here is not, Don’t eat with pigs.) Socializing and fellowship, perhaps even more than taste, can determine the amount we eat.

And while there don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules about how to celebrate gratitude for our bounty, I don’t think we’re supposed to eat the entire harvest at one sitting.

The Thanksgiving of 1621 was celebrated in a slightly different manner. The Wampanoag Indians had befriended and taught the starving Pilgrims how to farm productively. Grateful for their first successful harvest, the Pilgrims invited the Wampanoags to feast from their bounty.

As their contribution, the Native Americans brought a gift of five deer. In addition to venison, the meal reportedly consisted of corn, pumpkin, and various fowl. No mention of green bean casserole.
Instead of devouring one gigantic meal, then retiring to a pinewood chair to suffer gastric retribution, they participated in a three-day festival of hunting and entertainments, interspersed with more eating of course.

However, the idea of Thanksgiving as an annual holiday didn’t take hold immediately. Although President Washington proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in November of 1789, it wasn’t until the 19th Century that it became an American tradition, thanks to American writer, Sarah Josepha Hale, who spent 30 years petitioning for a national Thanksgiving holiday. (We can also thank her for publishing recipes for turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, and for writing Mary Had a Little Lamb.)

It was President Lincoln who, during the Civil War in 1863, proclaimed the final Thursday in November as an annual day of Thanksgiving. Adding his own whimsical touch in 1989, President Bush the elder, pardoned a turkey, which was then retired to a farm. The practice continues today.

As we pause in humble gratitude and joy with family and friends, and that second piece of pie, may we also remember those facing an empty chair at the Thanksgiving table this year, all who have lost their homes, and those serving our country. May God comfort and bless them, and you.

Article by Constance Watkins