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Thursday, 26 November 2009

“Happy Thanksgiving.” That is the traditional greeting for this day. I have noticed, however, that more and more people have switched to a less formal greeting. “Happy Turkey Day.” And Frume Sarah doesn’t approve.

Sure, it would be easy to dismiss this as further proof that Frume Sarah is just some old fogey and is resistant to change. But when it comes to Frume Sarah, nothing is EVER that straight-forward.

“Happy Turkey Day” focuses on the food. It completely removes the essential meaning of this day; to give thanks. Certainly the original celebrants of this festival were much more in tune with the religious intent of devoting a festival to giving thanks to God. Going back to the 1620’s, the early settlers of this country recognized their good fortune as being a direct result of God’s intervention. Whether completing a successful harvest or surviving a harsh winter, they showed their gratitude with a festival of thanksgiving.

Though observed with some regularity through the years, our modern Thanksgiving did not become a Federal holiday until 1863, by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln. I imagine, though, that President Lincoln did not imagine football games, Black Friday, and national gluttony.

And that brings me to my problem with “Turkey Day.” I do not understand the need to eat to the point of discomfort. Like an other proper Jewish housewife, I DO know that the mere possibility of a houseful of guests and not enough food is enough to send any woman into a dither. But there is a tremendous difference between enough food and an amount that could easily feed an entire village.

There are so many hungry people in our country. And it makes me crazy to know the amount of excess food will be served. And how many people will joke about being in a turkey coma. And how 39.8 million people in this great nation go to bed hungry, including 14 million children. As a mother, I cannot imagine the pain of sending a child to bed without dinner…not knowing if there will be any way to make the following day end any differently.

In addition to enjoying plentiful food, family, football, and friends, please consider relieving some of the burden of those who live in hunger.

Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest)
Mazon: The Jewish Response to Hunger
your community food bank

Chag HaHodaah Sameach — Happy Feast of Thanksgiving!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dadgiraffe permalink
    Thursday, 26 November 2009 11:03 pm

    Many years ago, at an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, a dear friend–an American Baptist minister–gave the sermon. She entitled it, “Don’t Get Lost in the Sauce.” After all this time, that phrase still captures the message we all should remember at Thanksgiving.

  2. homeshuling permalink
    Friday, 27 November 2009 6:57 am

    Not to mention, there is nothing happy at all about the day from a Turkey’s perspective.

    We spent Wednesday at the day school with age appropriate lessons on poverty and with every single child helping prepare food for meals at the local soup kitchen. It was a wonderful way to move into the holiday.

  3. Friday, 27 November 2009 7:48 am

    I’ll admit to being part of the more is better for Thanksgiving dinner cult, but at least all the leftovers are divvied up and never go to waste – on the contrary, they’re prized. The reminder to remember and help those less fortunate is an important and a timely one though. We give clothing donations all the time, but I can and should do more to help those that are hungry as well.

  4. Friday, 27 November 2009 9:11 am

    We were talking about this yesterday in connection to Shabbat meals, that the food shouldn’t be the main thing.

    However, as the main chef, I do want and crave the appreciation. So food discussions are always welcome at my table, on Shabbat or Thanksgiving or on a weeknight.

    I hope to do another food drive for our local food pantry before Pesach; solves two problems (get rid of Chametz and feed the neighbors that have a difficult time paying for the groceries).

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