Some fun facts about Thanksgiving

I recently learned something that I didn’t quite appreciate. Parents of Generation Zers told me that their children do not want to celebrate Thanksgiving because of our history with Native Americans. History has a long arc, and we have an opportunity to learn and do better along the way. With that in mind, I offer my 2022 version of Thanksgiving.

First, some fun turkey trivia that might help lighten the mood.

Question 1: Who do we thank for making Thanksgiving a national holiday?

Answer: The generally accepted first Thanksgiving was in 1621, probably without turkey. It wasn’t a national holiday until Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” petitioned President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Nickname of Mrs. Hale? “Mother of Thanksgiving.”

Question 2: When was the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Answer: The first parade was held in 1924 and was called the Macy’s Day Christmas Parade in hopes of encouraging holiday shopping. The parade included monkeys, bears, camels and elephants from the Central Park Zoo — and no character balloons. Snoopy, where have you been?

Question 3: How many turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving?

Answer: It is estimated that 46 million turkeys are cooked. How many are fully consumed is another answer. Instacart says 68% of Americans don’t like turkey and its side dishes.

Question 4: What is this holiday’s one lasting contribution to American culture, which spans and will continue to span decades?

Answer: Frozen TV dinners. In 1953, Swanson completely overestimated the number of turkeys to be ordered, leaving them an extra 260 tons of turkey! Swanson turned his mistake into an opportunity and created reheatable turkey meals that were packaged in individual bowls. Swanson sold 10 million frozen turkey meals in 1953 and the Frozen TV Dinner was born.

And now to my message, which is more than the long arc of history: In 2022 I am grateful that comebacks are possible. Of course we are still trying to come back from COVID-19. All of the qualifiers in this sentence affirm the challenge—”still,” “process,” and “trying.”

But I believe in comebacks. they happen. I live in Boston and was lucky enough to see the Red Sox come back to win the 2004 ALCS after losing three games and coming close to elimination. From there they won the World Series. More recently, in 2020, the Chicago Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit to win their first World Series in 108 years.

In our own lives we experience comebacks. Restaurants are open. travel takes place. Some people eat inside at other people’s homes. It’s true that the dinner menu itself is designed based on store stock levels as the supply chain is still cumbersome, but who really cares?

At our turkey dinner, I’m going to ask people to remember a meaningful comeback they’ve had. It can be as momentous as recovering from a health episode or as emotionally draining as salvaging a failed project at work. It could be as silly as the spice turmeric making a comeback in our diet. Oh the places you can go

One of my favorite comebacks involves Ernest Hemingway, a prolific and highly respected author in the 1930s. Then he had a bad streak when he didn’t publish a novel for 10 years before publishing Across the River and Into the Trees, which was panned.

Hemingway was depressed and his reputation ruined. In 1953 he wrote The Old Man and the Sea, in which he drew parallels between Hemingway’s failures and his unsuccessful fisherman as the protagonist. It earned him the Nobel Prize. reputation restored.

Comebacks are everywhere, and they’re inspirational, which brings me back to Turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Turkeys are celebrated as the cornerstone of our Thanksgiving holiday. Benjamin Franklin is known for wishing the turkey, which he called a “respectable bird,” had been the national bird representing our country.

Yet for all its grandeur and grace, most Americans don’t like turkey, which has just one day of prominence throughout the year. It may be a literary exaggeration to refer to the turkey as the “comeback pheasant,” but it has found a niche in our culture, symbolizing a day of gratitude and love.

To that I say, “Pass the turkey, pass the gratitude, and enjoy the comeback as we toast the end of a challenging year.”

• Jill Ebstein is editor of the At My Pace book series and founder of Sized Right Marketing, a consulting firm.



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