There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.
I have always loved Thanksgiving. When I still lived near my family in South Dakota my husband and I welcomed my parents, my siblings and their families, their in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends to our home. We'd borrow extra banquet tables and folding chairs from the church and set up 'children's tables' in the family room. We still use the turkey napkin holders my children made so many years ago--it's part and parcel of all the lovely traditions that families develop over the years. Now that my son is married, he and his wife are starting new traditions that involve both our family and her family, a beautiful blending of people who come together to celebrate life and love and the union of our children.
Perhaps because my ancestors were Pilgrims the day has always held a special meaning for me, and I have tried through the years to incorporate as much history as possible, along with the mashed potatoes, turkey and pumpkin pies. I serve George Washington's ragout of onions and Thomas Jefferson's special apple pudding. After the movie I saw this weekend, I'm thinking I need to find a recipe that Abe Lincoln would have enjoyed to add to the menu. My husband and I watched one of the world's finest actors, Daniel Day Lewis, become Abraham Lincoln in an Oscar-worthy performance. The movies centers on the last four months of the Civil War, as Lincoln and his Secretary of State, William Seward, fight to bring the 13th Amendment, the Abolition of Slavery, to a vote in Congress. It is a stirring and emotional movie, and I loved every minute of it. Did you know Lincoln established the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving in 1863? So today I leave you with his proclamation, hoping that all of us can join together in a spirit of 'peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.'
By the President of the United States of America.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State