Pre-schoolers talk turkey
By By Janet Little Cooper
Thanksgiving Day, recognized on the fourth Thursday of November, is only one day away.
Tomorrow will be filled with early rising deer hunters, parades, huge family meals and wall-to-wall football games.
Thanksgiving Day will also mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season making the day a far different occasion than the original Thanksgiving with the pilgrims.
The huge family meals are about the only thing that our modern-day Thanksgiving's have in common with the first Thanksgiving held by the pilgrims in 1621.
Even though the pilgrims used the word "turkey," it is not certain that wild turkey was actually a part of their feast. The pilgrims used the term to refer to any sort of wild fowl.
Another modern staple at almost every Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie. But it is unlikely that the first feast included that treat. The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. But the feast did include fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.
Similar Thanksgiving feasts would occasionally follow some years later until the day was finally proclaimed as a National Day of Thanksgiving.
October of 1777 marked the first time that all 13 colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration. It also commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. But it was a one-time affair.
George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, although some were opposed to it. There was discord among the colonies, many feeling the hardships of a few Pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday. And later, President Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the idea of having a day of thanksgiving.
It was Sarah Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies' Magazine, and later, in Godey's Lady's Book. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
Every president proclaimed Thanksgiving after Lincoln. The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it up one week to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season. Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.
Since then our nation has celebrated the day by setting aside a time for giving thanks that generally includes a huge meal with our family and friends.
Most cooks have their favorite method for cooking the Thanksgiving turkey to perfection whether it is a traditional turkey roast, deep-fried turkey, or a Cajun style turkey.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we asked 18 preschool children from Northwest Escambia Learning Center in Davisville, Fla., to help us out by telling us how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Their instructions are a definite keeper for the recipe book!
Some of the Thanksgiving information for this story was obtained at www.willstar.com