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The Forth Thursday of November

Thanksgiving – a wonderful American holiday for giving thanks!

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Granted this is not a' desi tyohaar' (an Indian festival). But for those of us living in America, we know only too well how much a part of fall/winter festivities Thanksgiving is for our kids and by
that token for us. So desi festival or not, celebrate it we do!

For those of us living in India, we have certainly heard about it from the NRI cousins/ friends and have perhaps even celebrated it with those who have returned from the US for good.

Yes, Thanks Giving is one of the most important holidays celebrated in America. As our school going kids know and we have educated ourselves, the history behind Thanksgiving dates back to 1621, when a small ship called the Mayflower, carrying 102 passengers, a group of religious separatists from Europe, now known as Pilgrims, landed near Plymouth and founded the first permanent European settlement in America. Only half of the colonists could survive the brutal winter of New England. Then Squanto, a local tribe member, taught the Pilgrims not only survival techniques of how to cultivate corn and catch fish, but also helped them to forge alliance with the local tribe, Wampanoag. In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, American’s “first Thanksgiving”, an autumn harvest feast was shared between the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians.

Much later in 1789, President George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America, as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. Even then, Thanksgiving was observed on various dates throughout history. It was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln which proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.


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And so Thanksgiving came to be celebrated each year on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. And even though historically, it had roots in religious and cultural tradition, today, Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated as a secular holiday.
Today Thanksgiving is marked with fun festivities, family reunions and feast. Days before the holiday, our younger kids start bringing home wonderful art and poems from school revolving around turkey, the thanksgiving bird. Food drives are organized in schools and some Americans even volunteer in homeless shelters. Schools close for a week and then it’s time for family to visit! The big day is the feast day, the feast compromising of roasted turkey, filling, honey ham, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, corn bread, yam and pumpkin pie. Whether as desis, we know how to make the Thanksgiving feast or not, whether we like or even eat turkey or not, our kids, born and raised here, insist on that being the menu. While some of us have learned the fine feast (thanks to the age of the net), others fall back on catering the feast. And our enthusiasm is such that the vegetarians amongst us even go the whole nine yards, well, lets’ say 8, for its’ minus the turkey!

So whatever your menu this holiday, we hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving with your loved ones- whether family or friends, as you celebrate and give thanks to God for all that is good in your life!

As a final note, want to include a wonderful note written by our then six-year old daughter on one Thanksgiving evening-
I’m thankful for the trees, I can feel the paper.
I’m thankful for the air, I can feel the life.
I’m thankful for the house, I can feel the safety.
I’m thankful for the things, I can feel the joy.
I’m thankful for the teachers, I can feel the knowledge.
I’m thankful for the friends, I can feel the laughter.
I’m thankful for the siblings, I can feel the sharing.
I’m thankful for the parents, I can feel the love!

Happy Thanksgiving all!
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