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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is almost here. To celebrate Turkey Day, the reference staff decided to offer our deepest thoughts about the joys of Thanksgiving. Tracy kicks it off with this sweet, funny, and deeply creepy Thanksgiving story:

My mother has always been crafty, by which I mean “handy with a needle and thread,” although she is crafty in the other sense of the word, too. When I was in the first grade, she made me a pilgrim costume: black dress, white apron, and a jaunty pilgrim bonnet. Making the costume was not the problem. The problem was that I had to wear it to school.

Let’s think back: what did you wear to your elementary school’s Thanksgiving dress-up day? Oh yes, that’s right: there’s no such thing.

I was the only person wearing a pilgrim costume. The teachers thought this was delightful and made me stand not only in front of my own class and let the other kids ask me questions about being a pilgrim—I didn’t know the answers since THIS WAS NOT A PERFORMANCE ART PIECE—but in front of all the other classes in the school and let THEM ask me questions. “What is your name?” Good question. “What did you eat on the Mayflower?” Can’t help you. “How long was your journey?” Longish. Pretty long. “Did you make friends with the Indians?” Umm, probably?

Unlike the clown costume my mom made me wear for ten years (it was very blousy), after the first grade trauma, I never had to wear the costume again. A few years ago Mom sent me a Thanksgiving card. When I opened it, a Polaroid photo of me in the costume fell out. I can tell it was taken before school because I’m not yet crying. She signed it: “I’m sorry. Love, Mom”

Brandie keeps the Thanksgiving cheer coming by discussing her refusal to sidestep the big day in favor of Christmas. Here’s her story:

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, but you almost wouldn’t know it. With Christmas music already on the radio, Christmas-themed ads on t.v., and “Black Friday” sales already underway, it seems like people have been all too eager to skip right over Turkey Day. I love Christmas as much as the next person, but I’m sorry – I have to draw the line somewhere. “After Thanksgiving Sales” BEFORE Thanksgiving? That’s just wrong.

Despite the accelerated Christmas fervor, everyone knows that the Christmas season doesn’t officially start until the Big Man himself has made his official debut for the year, and that happens in front of the Macy’s at Herald Square in New York City. Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, listening to the commentary on the floats and balloons, and nibbling on samples from our ensuing dinner feast has been an unofficial tradition in my parents’ house for years. And until the Jolly Guy in Red rolls onto my t.v. screen on Thanksgiving morning, I refuse to play into society’s attempts to sweep Thanksgiving under the rug in favor of an extended Christmas season.

You’re preaching to the choir, Brandie. I’ll take food over gifts any day of the week. Elisabeth finishes off our Thanksgiving post by offering the menu from her first Thanksgiving away from home:

I was seventeen when I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home. I was living in a small town in southern Germany and was lucky enough to be one of four English-speaking exchange students sponsored by the local Rotary group. Our collective group of host parents and sponsors wanted to make sure that we weren’t getting too homesick at the beginning of the holidays so, bless their hearts, they decided to make sure that we had a traditional Thanksgiving feast. In my memory, this is what was served:
Hähnchen РRoasted chicken
Kartoffelknödeln РPotato dumplings
Spargel – Asparagus
Kompott – Stewed fruit
Semmeln – Rolls
Bier – Well, that translates easily enough!

I remember that our amusement over our delicious traditional meal far outweighed any lingering disappointment and went a long way towards dissipating any lingering homesickness. Frohe Erntedankfest!

Well, I don’t have a Thanksgiving story, so I’ll just mention the two things I’m most thankful for. First, I’m thankful that I have so many wonderful friends, family, and coworkers in my life. Secondly, I’m thankful for the fact that over the last four years I’ve maintained an average body weight of 185 lbs. and kept my BMI at an appropriate level. It’s took a lot of hard work, but I look as trim and handsome today as I did when I was 25; it’s truly a Thanksgiving miracle.

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