Thanksgiving is one of our most meaningful holidays. The day is about gratitude and family. Many people travel home to spend time with family while others celebrate “Friendsgiving.” Thanksgiving is usually centered around food and for many, the day is also about football.
In many African-American communities, Thanksgiving food goes beyond just the traditional turkey. “Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays for African-American families, especially from a culinary standpoint,” says Wanda Draper. Soul food is often present on the table, dishes like collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato pie. Recently, hip-hop MC Robyn Hood gave her take on the “Beans Greens Potatoes Tomatoes” song. This song highlights the celebration of all Thanksgiving food, including soul food.
Gathering around the table with family and friends is central to the day for most but there are some other holiday traditions as well. In keeping with the theme of gratitude, many people join with loved ones in an act of giving back. This might include things like helping out at a food kitchen or a food shelf, as the Obamas do annually. Eating too much and settling in on the couch for a nap or to watch the game are a big part of Thanksgiving for most, but others choose to start the day with a run. In a number of cities, there are Turkey Trot races. Some families just do the run for fun as a healthy way to start the day before heading home for all the food. Others, though, use the race as a way to give back by raising money for a charitable cause.
Although Thanksgiving is primarily an American holiday, it is also observed in a handful of other countries. Liberia celebrates Thanksgiving on the first Thursday of November. For Liberians, the holiday is about being thankful for their history, as the country began with the colonization of freed black slaves from the United States. In his 2010 Thanksgiving Day proclamation, President Obama said: “A beloved American tradition, Thanksgiving Day offers us the opportunity to focus our thoughts on the grace that has been extended to our people and our country.” He went on to talk about many contributions of Native Americans before ending with “I encourage all the people of the United States to come together…to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others.” A beautiful sentiment, indeed.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers from The Douglas Review team.