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What Are You Thankful For? By Cheryll Boswell

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, besides my birthday. Since both the federal and state government haven’t declared that special day in June a national or even a state holiday, I’m going to keep that 4th Thursday in November as my favorite time of the year.

It’s still not one hundred percent clear on when America started celebrating Thanksgiving as a holiday or even why it’s celebrated in November. Some will tell you Thanksgiving is associated with the arrival of Pilgrims and their settling in Plymouth, Massachusetts from England. Stories will also tell you how happy Pilgrims were to survive their first winter in this newly found country and had a successful harvest with help from the indigenous people that were already occupying the land. In grade school pictures of Native Americans and Pilgrims were shown sitting around the table and feasting. As we grow older and become a little more educated, we know that’s not the truth. It was not a nice party with Pilgrims on one side of the table and Natives on the other. Economic well-being, and religion have always been the core of giving thanks during this holiday.

Thanksgiving for me is a time to be with family and friends without the stress of gift buying. It’s a time to celebrate my culture and infuse it with food. It’s a time to respect old traditions and start new traditions around the dinner table. More important, it’s a time to honor and cherish memories that are waning with family members as they age and become forgetful.

Growing up, our thanksgiving meals often consisted of traditional southern food that included turkey, cornbread stuffing, greens, chitlins, and sweet potato pie. I’m pretty sure red Kool-Aid was served as the drink. There might have been a coon garnished with sweet potatoes, or fried rabbit smothered in something. Around the table were my parents, and all my siblings. My brother’s plates needed sideboards to keep the food from spilling. Dainty eaters they were not. Friends would stop by and take a plate home. There was always plenty.

Today, Thanksgiving with my family is a day of eating, watching parades then football, sleeping and repeating those steps. Our meals now are for Vegans, Vegetarians, Pescatarians, and Carnivores. There’s something for everyone to eat regardless of their food lifestyle. When I see everyone crowded into the kitchen as they overlook the nicely decorated dining room table, strewn with linens and fine china, my heart smiles. The kitchen is the heart of the home, it’s where they’ve chosen to be.

Thanksgiving is also a time to reflect on all those things we’ve been blessed with. We know this holiday as an opportunity to show our gratitude for the abundance in our lives, be it family, friends, relationships, or our health. As we enter another holiday season, what comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for?