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It’s time once again for family gatherings and fattening meals, with more turkey than you can gobble gobble. Thanksgiving! Dust off those decorative pilgrim caps and horns o’ plenty, as well as that high quality silverware you usually only use if your boss is coming over for dinner. Thanksgiving is certainly one of the most important holidays to Americans; in addition to its ceremonial and culinary preeminence it has also ensured that we all know what “tryptophan” is, as well as giving rise to the equally American tradition of shopping way too much on the following day. But in addition to all the fun and frivolity of our favorite four-day weekend, Thanksgiving is also a time of, quite literally, giving thanks. It’s often a time for families to get together and, if they’re not too busy playing Frisbee or giving each other noogies, showing their appreciation for one another. And for those family members who can’t make it, it’s a great time to send heart-felt Thanksgiving cards to show that you really do care. Just make sure not to drop the card in the cranberry sauce before you send it.
As we have learned countless times from elementary school pageants, Thanksgiving in the US dates back to the Pilgrims in what is today Massachusetts. In 1623, the settlers had intended to hold a harvest festival, but unfortunately, they didn’t have enough food for half of the people there. But they were famously then helped by a contingent of Native Americans who gave them seeds to plant and taught them how to catch local fish – proving that if you want to be invited to a party, it helps to offer to bring something to eat, as sending thanksgiving greeting cards probably didn’t happen then. However, there were also several “Thanksgiving” celebrations held in other colonies in the New World – most notably Virginia, where they sadly forgot to show an appropriate level of Southern hospitality to the local Native Americans. It took a revolutionary war to wrap all of these competing Thanksgivings into one official celebration. But regular celebrations took even longer to come about; Thanksgiving was proposed as a regular holiday to be held every fourth Thursday of November by Lincoln, in hopes that a nice turkey dinner would help preserve the Union. Today, Thanksgiving is widely celebrated with sending greeting cards, crafts, poems, decorations, readings of history, and of course, food and recipes unique to Thanksgiving. But in the midst of all the commotion, don’t forget to give some thanks to friends and family with a Thanksgiving card with a saying or message. Because nothing beats getting a nice “you’re welcome” card after Thanksgiving.