Opinion photo

It seems we are all thankful for the ability to get together this year. Last year we had to cope with words like “social distancing” and “nuclear family gatherings,” with suggestions of holding dinner outdoors. Well, good riddance to 2020. 

The good news is that about 50 million Americans are traveling this week. Time to break out the china and celebrate this Thanksgiving the way we want to, with plenty of food and loved ones close by. Still, our hearts will go out to the many families who will set one less dinner plate at the table this year.

What are you eating on Thanksgiving? Let me guess. Probably a big bird. We Americans love our turkey dinner. Did you know that 1 million people will call the Butterball Turkey Talk Line around the holidays? From anxious first-time cooks to experienced chefs, it seems every now and then, it helps to “talk turkey” with an expert. There are 50 “turkey experts” standing by to advise people on how to safely thaw out the bird (no, do not put it in a bathtub) or how to speed up the cooking process when you forgot to turn the oven on (impossible to do). Oh, and those hot oil turkey fryers? Get your fire extinguisher handy because they can burn the house down. Be careful. Cooking can be dangerous.

Gee, if a million folks a year have been calling into a hotline about cooking turkeys for the past 35 years, it tells me that something is way too complicated. Maybe the only reason we eat turkey is because it is big enough to feed a crowd, even if we don’t necessarily like it. Uh oh, now the emails will be flying my way. Honestly, I love traditions, yet how many times a year do people actually make turkey dinners? Ha! Once. 

Probably the pilgrims didn’t worry much about cooking turkeys. They got on a ship, off to place unknown, unsettled, with only hopes of a better life. One hundred men, women and children spent 66 days crossing the Atlantic to come to a “new world,” overcoming harsh weather, sickness and fear. There were Native people, strange foods, no way back home, and yet in 1621 a group of brave and weary souls joined the Wampanoag tribe for a feast to “give thanks.”

Fast forward to 2021. Many stores will be open on Thursday and folks might start their Christmas shopping. Hmm, maybe Thanksgiving will become one big “early bird special.” Which would be a shame because it is the day that symbolizes the pure spirit of giving thanks. In many ways, Thanksgiving might be the greatest holiday of all. No gift giving to commercialize it, no one religion to limit it, no elf to trivialize it. 

If you are sitting across the table from children or grandkids who look, think, talk and act in ways you might find “difficult” to understand, remember the pilgrims. They had found themselves in a place that was unimaginable, and yet were grateful for a harvest and life itself. After the last year, let’s spend one day being thankful.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.