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Wayne's Words: Being Thankful

Wayne Horne | 11/23/2016, 6 a.m.
The start of every holiday season should begin by being thankful for what we have, but, more importantly, for what ...

The start of every holiday season should begin by being thankful for what we have, but, more importantly, for what we have been able to share with others. The Thanksgiving Day holiday is the most American of our holidays. There will be gatherings and celebrations enjoyed with family and food. It’s also a time to reminisce about past Thanksgivings and the meaning of the holiday.

In the spirit of the season here are some fun facts about Thanksgiving that can liven up the gathering, especially if there is a need to avoid a political discussion. For instance, did you ever wonder how green bean casserole became a holiday staple? Campbell Soup created the recipe over 50 years ago. They now sell over $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup for Thanksgiving meals. There’s usually a marketing connection in corporate America.

There are about 280 million turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving every year. The Pilgrims celebrated that first Thanksgiving in 1621 and it lasted for a period of three days. They probably spent all that time preparing the bounty the Wampanoag tribe of Indians provided. But why is turkey the main course?

At the time, they were wild and plentiful. Turkeys are also uniquely American. One practical reason may be that they don’t provide for any other use like eggs or milk. Turkeys are large birds that provide a substantial quantity of meat with the potential for leftovers which can be the best reason to make it the main entree.

A turkey can’t fly away from its pursuers but it does run fast, reaching speeds up to 20 miles per hour.

Two things on the day’s traditional menu were not a part of the feast in 1621: cranberries and mashed potatoes. Cranberries were considered too bitter for consumption and were used instead as a dye and also as a healing agent. Potatoes were not introduced into North America until the early 1700’s. The modern potato masher wasn’t patented until 1847.

Thanksgiving is also the busiest travel day of the year. Anyone who has to fly out of an airport is well aware of that fact.

The oldest parade on Thanksgiving Day is in Philadelphia. This year will be the 97th anniversary of the 1.4-mile event. The biggest and most famous Thanksgiving Day Parade is put on by Macy’s in New York. According to one source, Gimbel’s was the first department store to hold a Thanksgiving Day parade.

The tradition of football games on the day began in 1876 when Yale and Princeton started the annual tradition of football on turkey day. The NFL began the tradition of playing on the holiday in 1934 when the Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears. The Bears won 19-16 and went on to a 13-0 season. They lost the NFL championship that year to the New York Giants. The Lions and the Dallas Cowboys are the teams that traditionally play every Thanksgiving Day.

One last thing…This time of year is about family and friends and peace on earth for all people. The peace part isn’t working out so well if indeed it ever has. Regardless of that sentiment, take time with family and friends outside the usual hubbub and enjoy the season. Happy Thanksgiving and stay tuned…