Thanksgiving in America


Gratitude

'Jay shares thoughts on the great American holiday – Thanksgiving!'


Thanksgiving is a great holiday! It’s about family, it’s about food – and most of all, it is about gratitude. The one time of year when we can stop and take a moment to feel thankful. Thankful for all the blessings that are bestowed upon us. Thankful for family, for friends and for all the wonderful spirit in our communities and the good in the world.

It is also a uniquely American holiday. First celebrated by the Pilgrims many years before the founding of our nation. Of all the holidays we celebrate in a calendar year, Thanksgiving comes with some of our most valued traditions. A day that brings together family, friends, and neighbors alike. A day to relax when we may not have had a lot of time off recently. But most importantly it’s a day to share our gratitude for the things we hold most dear, a reminder to appreciate all the good there is in life.

Cue the turkey’s, stuffing, gravy, and football, as this coming week, we celebrate Thanksgiving. My favorite aspect about it is how it tends to center our attention on all things positive, a call to action of sorts that prompts us to recognize that even though life may ebb and flow, there’s more to be grateful for than anything else. And after some of the muted celebrations of the last two years, we have more than ever to be grateful for this year.

Yet when it comes time to say what we’re grateful for, there might be high expectations from friends and family to be overtly grateful for everything and everyone right there and then. The truth is though, while it is the one day of the year truly dedicated to showing our thanks, I like to think of it as a chance to push the reset button on not necessarily what I am grateful for, but instead, how I practice gratitude the rest of the year. When it comes time to answer what I’m grateful for around the Thanksgiving Day table, I often find that I’m also asking myself, “well, have I been grateful enough this year for all my blessings?” And not in self-defeating way, but as a way to remind myself that to regularly practice gratitude is to reconnect and remind myself of the things that bring me the most joy and happiness.

“The grateful mind reaps massive advantages in life,” says Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology. Gratitude however requires action. To receive its benefits, sometimes it requires us to move beyond simply naming our blessings at the Thanksgiving table and instead, reflecting on how we practice gratitude, not necessarily the why. Through this approach, we may actually arrive at a point where sacrifices made by our relatives, family, or friends for our own benefit or the things we have in our life that make it just a little bit easier become clearer and our appreciation for them grows, and in turn so too does our gratitude. Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!


Turkey Pardons – The Great American Tradition

Some would say that Thanksgiving is a great day – for everyone except for turkeys. There is an exception, however. The practice of official Presidential pardons for our carefully selected national turkeys presented at the White House.

As background, there are two very distinct holidays in the United States that ask citizens to perform a specific duty. One is the 4th of July, when John Adams told his wife, Abigail, that the day should be solemnized with pomp and parade. From that call, fireworks and parades have become a yearly tradition associated with the holiday. The other is Thanksgiving; a day set aside for thankfulness and prayer. However, for some, the day has become known as the National Day of Turkey.

While President Lincoln could rightly be called the ‘Father of Thanksgiving,’ he was not the first President to declare a national holiday of thanksgiving and prayer in the nation. Prior Presidents had called for days of prayer and thankfulness. However, Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863 set aside the last Thursday of every November for a day of thanksgiving. And, unwittingly, the first official Thanksgiving also set in motion another American tradition, the pardoning of the Presidential turkey.

The story goes that Lincoln's son, Todd, was attached to a bird named Jack, which had unfortunately been selected for the Presidential table. Out of an act of kindness, the President offered a Presidential pardon to the turkey. From the late 1800’s to the 1900’s, it was common for organizations, such as the American Legion and the Girl Scouts, to send a bird to the President as a gift. However, it was not until 1947 did the annual pardoning of a turkey become a ceremony. In 1981, President Reagan started the practice of sending the pardoned turkey to a local farm to live out the rest of its life.

Occasionally, the pardoned turkeys would make their way to Disneyland celebrating their pardon on a float in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was not until 1999 were the turkeys named, with many of them as a play on food and Americanism. In recent years, pairs of turkeys have been presented to the President with names such as ‘Mac and Cheese’ and ‘Freedom and Liberty.’

The names of this year’s White House turkeys have not yet been released. However, please be watching as President Biden will pardon two North Carolina turkeys for Thanksgiving, in a ceremony scheduled for Monday, next week on the 21st.

The two turkeys this year are both males were and were raised on Circle S Ranch in Monroe, North Carolina, according to National Turkey Federation chairman, Ronnie Parker. As we go to press, the national gobblers are currently preparing for their long trip to Washington, D.C.


New Hampshire Connections to Thanksgiving

New Hampshire – and specifically the town of Newport, NH, - has a deep connection to Thanksgiving. It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a native of Newport, who is credited with spearheading the initiative that ultimately led to Thanksgiving being recognized as an official national holiday. Ask ten people today what Thanksgiving means to them and you may get ten very different answers. However, here’s what NH's own Sarah Josepha Hale wrote after petitioning five different Presidents over a period of 36 years "Our Thanksgiving Day, becoming the focus of private life and the virtues of the people, should be hallowed and exalted and made the day of generous deeds and innocent enjoyments, of noble aspiration and heavenly hopes."

She, of course, wasn't the only one who saw the power of coming together and giving thanks.

President Lincoln on Oct 3rd, 1863, proclaimed the day as one of "thanksgiving and praise." A little over a year later when the Civil War was still raging, Rev. James DeNormandie of Portsmouth's South Church delivered a powerful Thanksgiving sermon saying, "In the midst of war, we gather here today to speak of peace.” He also spoke of peace someday becoming a permanent condition, not just a pause between conflicts.

On a lighter note, the Portsmouth-born writer BP Shillaber had created the nation's first humor magazine in 1850. Mrs. Ruth Partington was his most famous character, and once Thanksgiving had been established as a holiday, he wrote of her fattening up a special Tom Turkey only to find it stolen on Thanksgiving Eve. Mrs. Partington broke the news to her guests while smiling calmly with her face as warm as "new butter upon a hot biscuit." "I hope they will find it tender," she said without any anger or frustration. "And I guess we can be thankful on pork and cabbage."

John Lord, a nineteenth-century historian is said to have found Portsmouth "beautiful and interesting" but really hated attending the harsh schools of his youth. Even more so was he bored by the long sermons at the North Church, whose pastor ironically was Lord's grandmother's husband - Joseph Buckminster - a popular minister of the day. He was though impressed by his grandmother's generosity as he would often see at Thanksgiving time twenty to thirty people receiving gratuities - a mince pie, a pound of sugar and perhaps a chicken.

And finally, what would a Thanksgiving discussion be without mentioning Betty Hill's famous conversation in 1979 with an alien she called "Baby." As you may recall, Betty and her husband Barney, of New Hampshire were well known for the episode described in the book, ‘Interrupted Journey,’ depicting their account of being abducted by extraterrestrial beings on a trip one night in 1961 while traveling through New Hampshire’s White Mountains. In 1979, Betty once again had gone to "my landing field" where aliens often came and during one of these visits, she attempted to explain Thanksgiving to Baby and asked if it understood. The UFO flashed its lights to indicate Betty's message had been received. Yet another New Hampshire connection to Thanksgiving.

While Betty's story might seem a little out-of-this-world, what we can all agree upon is the need for us to come together in a spirit of peace and gratitude on this next Thanksgiving - our world needs it! Happy Thanksgiving!

Positive Profile of the Week: Lauren Cline - Business Owner, Leader, One Fantastic Baker!

This week are delighted to highlight an accomplished media and communications professional, entrepreneur and friend, Lauren Cline.

It is especially important that we highlight Lauren as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. According to our best estimates, nearly 19 million ready-made pies are purchased for Thanksgiving. As someone who loves pie, I always try to scout out the next best spot. Lucky enough for me and fellow Granite Staters, we have such a place right in Bedford, New Hampshire. Lauren’s entrepreneurial venture known as ‘Slightly Crooked Pies.’

For those who think you’ve heard of Lauren, you most likely have. She was a familiar face covering the news for NECN. And today, she is coaching her husband Drew on radio techniques for he is the host of New Hampshire’s newest news talk radio program, ‘NH Morning Update’ on WFEA. Lauren is a communications icon. She has worked for WRKO, NECN, and several other media outlets across the region. Today, Lauren is overseeing the communications’ team at Catholic Medical Center. Her unique knowledge and commitment to seeking new opportunities in storytelling is truly amazing. It’s no wonder why she was included in the New Hampshire Union Leader’s 2018 ‘40 under 40’ list. But it's not just her amazing communication expertise that makes her a powerhouse in the community, it's her passion for baking that has led to the new endeavor every Granite Stater can't get enough of.

Several years ago, in Lauren’s 200-year-old home near Joppa Hill Farm in Bedford, she baked a pumpkin pie. It came out crooked because of the slant in her kitchen floor. It led to her inspiration to start selling pies every week. She would make a few dozen and in a moment's time they were gone via her pop-up store located near her driveway.

From there she created her own brand and ‘Slightly Crooked Pies’ began heading to a kitchen table near you. Lauren then combined her passion for baking with her communication skills to create a New Hampshire treasure. On her Facebook page @slightlycrookedpies, Lauren would post the week’s available pies and where you can get them. In moments, they were gone. But, people wanted more and the demand had to be met. So, she expanded.

Today, Lauren and Slightly Crooked Pies can be found at local stores throughout the greater Manchester Area. Her fans are always ready to see what's coming out this week and if I remember correctly, I recall a mutual friend of both Lauren and myself, who during Covid, was able to get his fix of Strawberry Rhubarb Pies by purchasing 6 mini pies and then proudly posting it on social media. It's this kind of fan base Lauren and her pies have created, that earned her WMUR’s ‘Viewers’ Choice Award’ for ‘Best Pies in New Hampshire.’

I can tell you I'm a fan not only of her pies but of her commitment to communications, our community, and being a role model to many. Lauren is a living example of following your passions and turning optimism into opportunity. For those who have enjoyed Slightly Crooked Pies, I invite you to tell me your pie of choice at ‘jay@jaylucas.us. If you haven’t experienced this homemade 603 delight, I invite you to learn more at slightlycrookedpies.com .

Thank you, Lauren, you’ve got the right recipe for success!


Quotes of the Week: Thanksgiving

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

“It has been an unchallengeable American doctrine that cranberry sauce, a pink goo with overtones of sugared tomatoes, is a delectable necessity of the Thanksgiving board and that turkey is uneatable without it.

Alistair Cooke

“Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving.

Amy Grant

“I suppose I will die never knowing what pumpkin pie tastes like when you have room for it.

Robert Brault

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

“Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.

Rumi