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Thanksgiving Day -- Feast of the Last Harvest

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Now is the time to feast and give thanks...

Headline: "Ax Murders on Rise Again."
Cartoon by Gary Larson

Man Stuck With 320 Turkeys When "Grab-a-Turkey" is Banned 

A California businessman has been left with 320 live birds after his grab-a-turkey promotion was banned.

Glenn McElroy planned to give customers a turkey for 25 cents if they could catch one running around one of his car part yards.

LA animal control officers threatened him with criminal charges if he didn't stop his Great American Turkey Hunt.

Source: Ananova, November 15, 2001


A Change In Plans
Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I'm telling you in advance, so don't act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won't be coming, I've made a few small changes:
Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.
The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy China or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas.
Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist assures me it is a turkey.
We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I'm sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 AM upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds. As accompaniment to the children's recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don't own a recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They are lying.
We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional method. We've also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door.
Now I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private" meaning: Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat.
Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice between 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You will still have a choice: take it or leave it.
Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. She probably won't come next year either.
I am thankful.


Warmth and Comfort without Food

by Jonathan Bowden
, M.A. for iVillage

It almost seems like an oxymoron. Food is so powerfully connected to feelings that it seems impossible to consider food apart from its context. For many people, the mere thought of a favorite food evokes powerful associations fusing image, taste, sensation, feeling, emotion and memory into a mixture that is near impossible to separate into its constituent parts.

Indeed, this is precisely the pit into which most folks attempting to change their eating habits fall, and from which many never successfully climb out.

In other words, when the boyfriend dumps you, buttered string beans and grilled fish just don't cut it.

Oh how we wish it did -- that comfort and consolation, peace and calm could be found in a forkful of tofu casserole rather than a creme brulee. That at the end of a stressful day, the pint of gourmet ice cream did not sing its siren song quite so loudly. That the familiar voices in our heads ('It's not going to kill me,' 'I deserve it,' 'I can start tomorrow') were not so well miked.

But they are. And if we're going to be successful in managing our weight, we need to stop waiting for them to shut up and learn how to live amidst their annoying chatter.

Living with our cravings

One of the most valuable lessons I ever learned came when I quit smoking. Like many people, I figured eventually the craving would stop, I wouldn't think about cigarettes so much, and the habit would just sort of go away by itself. Big mistake. It's been more than 10 years, and even now (very rarely, it's true) I'll get an urge to fill my lungs with irritating, carcinogenic, cancer-producing cigarette smoke. Don't ask me why. The important thing is that I don't do it. What I learned when I finally stopped smoking was that I could HAVE the impulse to do something stupid and destructive and yet not empower it. I could notice it, watch it, experience it and let it float by, rather than being sucked into the vacuum of its pull.

That's empowerment.

And it doesn't necessarily come cheap.

Emotional causes of cravings

From infancy, we cry when we're hungry and stop when we're fed. We learn that the pain and discomfort of hunger can be stopped by a bottle, replaced with the warm fuzzy comfort of a full tummy and often accompanied by affection and a soothing voice. Food becomes the means by which we soothe emotional distress; the tool with which we self-medicate our anxieties and hurts, desperation and loneliness; the surrogate for human contact or the bridge with which we form connections. Food is celebration: Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and holidays. Food is social: gatherings, lunches, buffets, dinners and dating.

Food becomes a friend who is reliably, consistently, dependably there.

No wonder dieters feel they are going mad.

What's more: Like a drug, the most destructive foods feed addictions. High-carbohydrate, high-sugar convenience and comfort foods produce correspondingly high blood sugar and insulin levels, which lead to even more cravings. They also produce higher levels of serotonin -- in other words, 'instant Prozac.' In sensitive people, particularly those who may have low serotonin levels to begin with, a carbohydrate binge is the equivalent of self-medicating. I've heard more than a few folks describe the feeling after a sugar binge as being almost 'high.'

So what to do?

Here are the top 10 things I've learned to ask myself when it seems as if nothing will do the trick besides the food I want the most and need the least:

1. What am I really feeling?

2. Can I just BE with this feeling?

3. If I eat this food, or go on this binge, what is it costing me?

4. What's really important to me right now?

5. Is there a better way to take care of myself?

6. What gift can I give myself right now that won't cost me my power?

7. How can I nurture myself right now without hurting myself?

8. If I were a child right now, how would I like to be comforted?

9. What could I do right now that would make me feel good tomorrow?

And finally, and perhaps most important of all...

10. If I DO eat this comfort food, can I savor it, enjoy it, relish it and then let it go -- without beating myself up and without giving up on my commitment?

If the answer to the last question is yes, well then...

Bon appetit.

The Annual "Pardoning of the Bird"
A Whitehouse Thanksgiving Custom

The History of Thanksgiving
1492 - Christopher Columbus discovers America, unless you count the native peoples already living there. Columbus doesn't. Columbus and crew celebrate by holding a dinner, giving thanks for their safe arrival. Embarrassment ensues when every Indian brings maize, and nobody brings pumpkin pie.

1620 - Pilgrim men invent sport of football to avoid helping clean up after Thanksgiving dinner.

1671 - First embarrassing drunken relatives at Thanksgiving dinner, as Captain John Smith's parents tell Pocahontas the "hilarious" old "I got lost in the maize" joke for the hundredth time.

1701 - At a historic Thanksgiving dinner, Dutch settlers unveil historic "Indians Give Us All Of Their Land Treaty." Due to an unfortunate oversight, the Indians are left off of the invite list, and the treaty is signed without them.

1776 - Excited that his British in-laws finally agreed to meet him for Thanksgiving dinner, silversmith Paul Revere rides through Boston announcing the news. Unfortunately, many colonists misinterpret his cry "the British are coming!" as a warning, leading to the Revolutionary War.

1812 - At an international Thanksgiving dinner, King George of England, still hurting from losing the Revolutionary War, challenges United States President James Madison to "best 2 out of 3."

1860 - At a Senate Thanksgiving dinner, the seven-year-old son of Alabama's Senator Richard Applebee insults the Senators from Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, sparking the Civil War. The tradition of the "children's table" is instituted in 1861.

1903 - Canada steals idea of Thanksgiving holiday, placing it in October, so they can say it was their idea first.

1928 - To commemorate "our nation's greatest era of prosperity that will last forever and ever," President Herbert Hoover dumps ceremonial ten thousand turkeys into the Potomac River.

1929 - Following the Great Stock Market Crash, thousands of men go Turkey Diving in the Potomac River.

1957 - Declaring her spicy stuffing "a communist threat to undermine my health via heartburn," Senator Joe McCarthy has his wife placed under arrest as a Soviet saboteur.

1969 - The world's largest Eat-In event goes sour. Thousands of hippies start having bad trips when bad "brown gravy" gets passed around.

1991 - When Dan Quayle takes ill on Thanksgiving; a turkey is sworn as Vice President for three days. No change is noticed.

1997 - Strong natural tranquilizer tryptophane is discovered in turkey. A Colombian cartel immediately starts selling "pure" turkey on the streets for $500 an ounce. Turkey farmers get involved in drive-by shootings, and the U.S. government declares a national fowl emergency.

2002 - America is on a terrorist alert. It is now against the law to stuff a turkey since anyone is suspicious of hiding explosives. George W. signs this law into Congress, during a patriotic speech he defends this decision claiming "the evil doers are just looking for any opportunity to show up at your dinner table." This Thanksgiving take a real good look at your relatives...and report any suspicious behavor to the CIA, FBI or your local police...who cares if it's's your duty as an American.
Source: Greeting cards, fun pages, photos, and other humorous articles at

Happy Turkey Day
By Al Campbell
'Twas the night of Thanksgiving, but I just couldn't sleep.
I tried counting backwards, I tried counting sheep.

The leftovers beckoned - the dark meat and white
But I fought the temptation with all of my might.

Tossing and turning with anticipation
The thought of a snack became infatuation.

So, I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door
amd gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.

I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.

I felt myself swelling so plump amd so round,
'Til all of a sudden, I rose off the ground!

I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky
With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.

But, I managed to yell as I soared past the trees....
Happy eating to all, pass the cranberries, please.

May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes 'n gravy have nary a lump.

May your yams be delicious, may your pies take the prize,
May your Thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs.

-- as posted to the True Crime Group by Steve Levine


For sunshine gilding the mountain stream,
For silent walks beneath moon's soft beam,
For the joy of being part of a team...
For all of these, I give thanks.

For the Sun's warm kiss on a morning chill,
For a spirit always willing to climb a hill,
For teacher fields ready to till,
For all of these, I give thanks.

For my Lady's soft whisper in my ear,
For a deepest love that's ever near,
For comforting arms close in times of fear,
For all of these, I give thanks.

For wilderness that sets my heart afly,
For friendship given that will never die,
For truth that hides behind no lie,
For all of these, I give thanks.

For wisdom that comes with deepest tests,
For my children preparing to leave the nest,
For a wonderful life that's surely the best....
For all of these, I give thanks.

~ Elspeth Sapphire, Sept. 4, 1999


Mom's Roast Turkey with Giblet Gravy

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).

2. Remove the giblets and neck from a 20 lb. turkey

3. Rinse turkey inside and out and rub inside of chest and neck cavity with salt.

4. Rub turkey lightly with oil, especially wing tips.

5. Line turkey-sized baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil with enough left over to seal it closed when you are ready to cook it..

6. Place turkey in the pan, breast-side up, and stuff it. Don't forget to stuff the neck cavity.. 

7. Tuck excess turkey skin under the shoulders to protect stuffing from drying or over-cooking. You can sew or skewer it shut, but it isn't really necessary. 

8. Roast for 4 - 6 hours (depending on exact poundage and how much you stuffed it with), about 15-20 minutes per pound, or until meat thermometer reads 180-185 degrees (F). (Insert meat thermometer in thickest part of thigh, not touching the bone)

9. Open foil and fold back during the last half hour of cooking time to brown. Baste frequently with the juices in the pan.

10. While the turkey is roasting, wash the giblets and place them in a large saucepan with:

  • 6 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped celery
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 whole black peppercorns, or pepper to taste
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. sage
  • 1/2 t  parsley
  • 1/4 t sweet basil

11. Bring to a boil.

12. Reduce heat to low.

13. Cover and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until tender.

14. Strain broth, pressing vegetables and giblets firmly with the back of a spoon to squeeze out juices.

15. Set broth aside. You can either chop and set aside the vegetables and giblets (in the refrigerator) to be chopped finely to add to the gravy, or feed them unchopped to pets or stray animals when they cool.

16. When turkey is finished cooking, remove it from the oven.

18. Fold the tin foil back and very carefully, ladle out or drain the juices into a large measuring cup or bowl. Excess oil and fat will rise to the top. Use a tablespoon to skim fat off to be discarded.

19. Add enough of the pan juices to broth until you have about 6-7 cups. Reserve 1/2 cup of pan juices.

20. Let turkey stand for 15 minutes before carving.

21. Meanwhile, prepare the gravy by heating the 1/2 cup of pan juices in a saucepan.

22. When pan juices come to a boil, whisk in:

  • 3/4 c. cornstarch. (you can subtitute flour)

23. Cook for one minute.

24. Gradually whisk in reserved giblet broth.

25. Cook, stirring constantly, for 4-6 minutes or until thickened. (If it doesn't thicken enough, add more cornstarch after first dissolving it in a little water. DO NOT add cornstarch directly to hot gravy, it will make lumps! You can also use mashed potato flakes to thicken gravy.) 

27. Remove from heat and stir in:

  • 2-3 t. chicken bouillon

28. Remove stuffing, carve turkey, serve with gravy and all the rest of the fixings. Don't plan on wearing jeans for the rest of the evening.

"Miss November"

Cat's Corn Bread Stuffing
You can either use commercial bread crumbs or stuffing mixes (I use 1 corn bread mix and 1 turkey stuffing mix) or you can toast about 1 and 1/2 loaves of any kind of bread (start saving the crust ends from loaves of bread bagged in the freezer at the beginning of November) and cut into cubes to make stuffing.
Chop into small bits:
  • 2-3 stalks celery, including leaves and stemmy parts 
  • 1 large onion
Add to bread crumbs in large bowl. Pour in:
  • 1 can corn, cream corn, or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
Optional: add giblets and veggies reserved from broth
  • 2 t sage
  • 1 t sweet basil
  • 1 t parsley
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 stick margarine, cubed 

Add to mixture (use the seasoning packets from the stuffing mixes in place of the herbs). Pour enough hot water over mixture to melt margarine and moisten bread crumbs without making them "wet".

Stuff the bird!

Big Bird's Thanksgiving

Homemade Chunky Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 pound cranberries
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 c orange juice, or 1 diced orange
Mix together in a medium sized sauce pan. Cook uncovered, over a medium heat and stirring frequently, until most of the berries pop open and the mixture thickens.

Norman Rockwell's
Classic Thanksgiving Dinner

Pumpkin Pie Easy as Pie
Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • 2 c pumpkin
  • 1 t ginger
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cloves
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c evaporated milk
Place 2 frozen deep-dish pie shells on a large cookie sheet.
Dole out pie mixture equally between pies and place in center of oven.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, then check to see if knife inserted in center of pie comes out clean and pie is browned. 
If not, continue baking for no more than 45 minutes.
Let pies cool for at least an hour, or bake ahead and chill.
Serve with whipped cream if you feel like going "all the way."

Photo by Erich Mangl

Cran-Apple Pie
  • 3 c apples, sliced thin, peels on
  • 2 c cranberries
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2-3 T flour
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 2 T chopped-up margarine
Mix dry ingredients, add margarine bits.
Carefully fold fruit into mixture.
Use prepared folded crusts from the refrigerator case.
Place one crust in pie pan, flute edges.
Pour mixture into pie crust, gently smooth into a mound.
Set the second pie crust on top of the mounded fruit and flute crusts together at edge, cutting off excess. Use a bit of water to moisten crust to seal.
Cut slits in a circle at center of pie to allow steam to vent as pie cooks.
Set pie on cookie sheet at center of preheated oven.
  • Bake at 425 F for 30 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to 350 F, cook for about 30 minutes more.
When pie is nicely browned, it is done. Let cool and serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream, or chill and serve cold with whipped cream or plain.

Autumn Fields, Macedon, New York

Understanding Thanksgiving: History and Prayer
November 14, 2003 -- This Thanksgiving season we give thanks most of all for the common space that defines us all as fellow human beings. At the core, we all need the same things: strong, healthy families, guidance and development in youth, productivity as adults, respect and security as elders. We all benefit from good relations with our neighbors, fair treatment from government, the opportunity to give our children a good chance at decent lives, with freedom from violence and access to the innocent happiness and opportunity to hope that is their inherent right.
-- an excerpt from the full article at Indian Country Today


Did you know that the story of, and National Holiday, Thanksgiving was not created until 1863,by Pres. Lincoln to increase patriotism during the Civil War & that Pilgrims were not even included in the story until 1890?! That was 240 years AFTER it supposedly took place! Eastern Natives had observed autumnal harvestcelebrations for centuries before that. After the Europeans arrived, the Natives would sometimes include them in the feasts to forge alliances. But Thanksgiving is much more fable & myth than fact. Certainly not be taken literally. Not that we should think negatively on a day set aside to give thanks for what we have. It's just a shame we include such an ethnocentric myth as its centerpiece.

If you feel that a day should be set aside to honor the Natives of this land, to who we owe so much,

click here & sign the petition for a National Holiday in their honor

-- From "Forgotten American History"

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