Pat Wahler

Penning stories to savor.

Tag: Thanksgiving

The Mother of Thanksgiving

The scent of a turkey roasting in the oven.  Mashed potatoes covered with home-made gravy that melts in your mouth. Cinnamon-sweetened pumpkin pie served with plenty of fresh whipped cream. These are only a few of the delights offered by one of our country’s most decadent culinary events.

Thanksgiving is a mere eight days away and most of us are scurrying to stock up on the supplies necessary to create America’s annual traditional feast.

While the idea may have originated from the pilgrims – even though their meal looked far different from what is served today – it took the efforts of a woman to formally establish the tradition.

Sarah Josepha Hale, Mother of Thanksgiving. (Wikipedia, Public Domain)

Known as the Mother of Thanksgiving, Sarah Josepha Hale lobbied for the creation of a national holiday dedicated to giving thanks. Sarah, an accomplished and prolific writer, became editor of the most influential journal of its day, Godey’s Ladies Book, a position she held for forty years. Sarah wrote many editorials championing the idea of establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday before playing her most important card on September 28, 1862. With America in the midst of the horrors of the Civil War, she wrote a letter to President Lincoln asking him to make Thanksgiving a national holiday and “permanently an American custom and institution”. Lincoln must have agreed, for within a week, an official proclamation was issued setting the observance for the final Thursday in November to “help heal the wounds of the nation”.

In her spare time, (when she wasn’t busy establishing national holidays or editing), Sarah penned books, poems, and articles; she advocated on behalf of women’s education, encouraged the publication of American writers, campaigned for a unified American culture, and promoted the preservation of historical sites. Oh yes, and she wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, too.

Arbiter of fashion, food, and literary delights, thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale. (Public Domain)

I must admit her efforts to make a better America have me feeling like a total slacker, so here’s a gentle reminder from me to you. While you’re gathering ingredients for the holiday meal, please consider picking up a few extra things for your local food pantry. A little can help a lot, and I feel sure Sarah Josepha Hale would nod in approval at your kindness.

Finally, and just in time for Thanksgiving, I’ve posted a new recipe. Click on the Easy-Peasy Recipe tab for a simple and delicious way to prepare sweet potatoes that does NOT involve marshmallows or brown sugar. I think you’ll like it!

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Have Yourself a Flour-Free Thanksgiving

We are now less than one week away from Thanksgiving, and I’ve been scrambling to prepare for the big day.

Menu (same as last year). Ingredients (a work in progress). Decorating (check). Housecleaning (are you kidding?) I guess you can see which of these tasks appeals to me most.

At least I won’t have to deal with costumed children banging on my door, handing out treats, or watching for unpleasant tricks.

No, I don’t have my holidays mixed up.

Around the turn of the century, Thanksgiving looked a whole lot like Halloween. Children dressed up in costumes, begging for sweet hard candy treats or scrabbling for pennies. They were called Thanksgiving maskers, and, depending on your point of view, the day was either fun…or totally annoying.

Children ready for Thanksgiving circa 1910. Bain News Services/Library of Congress

Children ready for Thanksgiving circa 1910. The second goblin from the left is truly scary. Bain News Services/Library of Congress

More Thanksgiving hobgoblins. Bain News Service/Library of Congress

More Thanksgiving hobgoblins. Bain News Service/Library of Congress

Remember that scene from the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis? The one where the kids dress up on Halloween and throw flour in people’s faces? That’s what Thanksgiving masking looked like. The little darlings would even toss confetti or flour on pedestrians who were unfortunate enough to pass them on the street. Presumably the victims did not have a pocketful of sweet treats.

Imagine having to contend with such shenanigans along with preparing the Thanksgiving turkey.

Fortunately, this strange tradition died out in favor of the idea of shopping and Santa. You can probably thank the movie, Miracle on 34th Street for that favor. You know what? I’ll take Santa in a parade on Thanksgiving any day over a face full of flour. I already do that job quite nicely all by myself while slaving over a stove beating lumps out of the gravy.

So when you’re counting your blessings this year, remember to add the joy of no Thanksgiving masking. It’s something else for which you can be thankful. You’re welcome.

From me to you and yours, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving celebration. And a nice long flour-free nap when it’s over.

Happy Thanksgiving! Bain News Service/Library of Congress

Happy Thanksgiving! Bain News Service/Library of Congress

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