You have heard me say it before and I’m going to say it again, “What did they do with Thanksgiving?” These days it all begins after the Fourth of July celebrations. You can order the four CD Christmas Holidays Traditional Music collections over the TV when it is 100 degrees outside, and if that is not bad enough for pushing the season, you can select your favorite genuine artificial Christmas tree at Wally World in the next aisle over from school supplies around the first of September. You now have Halloween trees decorated with lights that can be changed from a scary orange glow to a festive Christmas green so you do not have to take the tree down all year if you don’t want to. I even heard a public school announce they were having their “annual Season of Harvest” meal instead of calling the usual turkey and dressing lunch in the cafeteria a Thanksgiving dinner. Can we not even say Thanksgiving anymore?
I still follow my Thanksgiving traditions. I went out and got me a turkey with my shotgun. No, I didn’t shoot a wild one out in the back forty, but as in past years, attended the annual Rockvale Ruritan Club Turkey Shoot in my community and won me a great big frozen one to cook for my family. Always enjoy the fellowship with the other “turkey shooters” and get a chance to feel like I’m bringing home food for the table just like they did at the first Thanksgiving. The Ruritans have been putting on a turkey shoot in our area about as long as that first Thanksgiving happened and besides all the fun for us guys who get our guns down once a year, it really helps out a good cause for the community. And for me, it means Thanksgiving is finally here.
If we are not careful, the next generation may only know Thanksgiving Day as the kick-off day for sales down at the mall. Ask a child today why we have a holiday called Thanksgiving and they may answer with the reasoning that we have it so we can eat a lot of food to have enough strength to last through a full day of shopping. If there ever was a year to attempt to find the true meaning for this special holiday we call Thanksgiving, it should be this one. With all the un-nerving news we have been bombarded with all year long, along with the concerns many people have about our country, we should all take time to take a look at what we have that is really worth being thankful for. Thanksgiving is that time to share our blessings and thank the God above for the families we have, the shelter we enjoy, the hopes we have and yes, the plentiful food we eat.
Just the other day, I got a news release about another undercover video being released by an activist group all upset about the treatment of turkeys. Animal abuse in any form is unacceptable. The actions of a few “bad actors” in no way reflect the high standards demonstrated daily by a vast majority of America’s farmers. They are committed to providing for the well-being of their animals and providing consumers a safe, abundant and affordable supply of food. In fact, they’ve committed their life to it. But, the final line in the group’s video about the turkeys was to suggest the best way to protect animals is to eat a vegetarian diet. If your choice is a vegetarian diet, then I support your choice completely, but at Thanksgiving I just can’t see a tofu turkey doing it for me. It is sort of hard for me to picture dad in his pullover vest sweater cutting into a tofu shaped turkey with the family gathered around. When the first slice comes off, you can’t comment on how juicy it is. Do you say it has a nice jiggle? And, where does the giblet gravy come from? I don’t think a soybean has giblets. I just saw that in 2011, more than 248.5 million turkeys were raised. More than 219 million were consumed in the United States. It is estimated that 46 million of those turkeys were eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas and 19 million at Easter. Turkey seems to still be the bird of choice for holiday meals and Thanksgiving leads the way. Let’s keep Thanksgiving as it is and save the “causes” for another time.
Take advantage of the day and give thanks for what we have. Celebrate the tradition as a day of thanks. The malls can wait, but the thanks we give to the One who created it all comes first. As I have said before, He should not be left to have to sit at the second-table.
– Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org