Continued from Page 9 “ traditional ,” we would need to cut out pies and potatoes , make cornbread and popcorn , watch our kids play with a hoop and a stick instead of watching the Lions and the Packers , fight for our lives for the year leading up to Thanksgiving ( though some might say we did that this year ), and lose the turducken . Then again , serve me some lobster and venison while you are at it , and I just might call it even .
To be clear , I am not a hater of tradition ; I just recognize that traditions change over time , usually by necessity and sometimes due to one brave woman or man deciding to try something new . The Thanksgiving holiday that we all know and love today did not even begin to take shape until the 19th Century . Until 1863 , Thanksgiving was celebrated mostly in New England , with each state scheduling its own holiday somewhere between October and January . Sarah Josepha Hale , now known as the “ Godmother of Thanksgiving ” ( and also the writer
The Thanksgiving holiday that we all know and love today did not even begin to take shape until the 19th Century .
THE DOCKET is the official award-winning publication of the Sarasota County Bar Association .
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All articles printed herein are property of the Sarasota County Bar Association and may not be reprinted without permission . Opinions expressed in The Docket are those of the authors only and are not opinions of the SCBA . of “ Mary Had a Little Lamb ”– perhaps because Ms . Hale kept cooking all of Mary ’ s turkeys ), was instrumental in making Thanksgiving a national holiday , writing letters to Presidents Taylor , Fillmore , Pierce , Buchanan , and , finally , Lincoln . Lincoln took her pleas to heart and supported the legislation to establish the national holiday ( only the third of its kind at that time , after Washington ’ s Birthday and Independence Day ). But it was not until 1942 that , by an Act of Congress , Thanksgiving received a permanent observation date and was no longer left to the discretion of the President .
While Ms . Hale may have been
an activist poet with her heart in the right place , I should mention that she was also the editor of a women ’ s magazine that frequently published recipes designed to be served at a Thanksgiving meal , including many of the recipes that would become today ’ s staples , like mashed potatoes , which were relatively uncommon at the time . Her impressive entrepreneurship and commercialism have inspired me to lobby for “ Thanks-taking ,” a holiday in March where people take money and property from each other by utilizing my legal services . Still , other Thanksgiving traditions also have clear ties to commercialism : n Topping sweet potatoes with marshmallows did not become common until 1917 , when marshmallows became mass-produced ( rather than hand-made ) and the Angelus Marshmallow Company hired the founder of the Boston Cooking School Magazine to help increase marshmallow sales by creating a marshmallow recipe book . This included the first-recorded recipe for marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole . n Green bean casserole was not invented until 1955 in the Campbell ’ s test kitchen . Campbell ’ s estimates that about 40 % of today ’ s sales of its cream of mushroom soup are specifically to make that dish . n More to the point , the Macy ’ s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one GIANT commercial .
And this year , tradition will evolve again due to a pandemic . I cannot be certain what it will look like . Perhaps we will see more outdoor Thanksgivings here in Florida ( but probably not at the site of the first Thanksgiving in New
England ). We may be forced to celebrate in smaller groups , not because I think any of us will limit our family to 10 people , but because no one wants to get stuffed in a plane , train , or even drive a car to Florida when several states are asking people from hot-spot areas to quarantine themselves for two weeks after travel . I can even see Thanksgiving going virtual . I , for one , am very comfortable finding a picture of someone else ’ s clean dining room and using it as my virtual background while I have a glass of wine in front of my computer .
While Thanksgiving will certainly be different , I can offer some hope . In this holiday season , let ’ s lean in to the pandemic . You have never had a better excuse not to hug and be kissed by Great-Aunt Mildred . Those in-laws living in those very undesirable winter locations are just going to have to stay home , rather than fill your guest rooms for a week . Also , not that I do not love your stuffing , it is just that I think I saw Uncle Steve double-dip , so I will pass for , uh , COVID-related reasons . For those of us in warmer climates , an outdoor Thanksgiving not only sounds like a load of fun ( and an homage to the original Thanksgiving ), but it will prevent having to dust off that dining room table you have not used since Christmas ( since all holidays since then have been effectively cancelled ). Let us remember 2020 not for the quarantine , panic-filled , depressing year that it has been for some , but rather for the outdoor , somewhat awkward , and physically-but-not-socially distanced time that it has been and finish it off just the same . The alternative , I fear , is to forget 2020 happened at all , but this would lead to some interesting questions from our children and grandchildren about the broken time-line in their history class and my wife swearing she is a year younger for the rest of her life .
This is all to say that perhaps the real tradition is not the Thanksgiving meal of turkey , stuffing , cranberry sauce , mashed potatoes , bread , and pumpkin pie , but rather the tradition of people evolving to thrive in their circumstances and coming together to celebrate their good fortune . We have all had a hard year ; let ’ s honor the first Thanksgiving ’ s legacy with resilience , gratitude , and hope . This is , at least , one tradition on which my wife and I can agree .
16 The Docket · November 2020