What is Thanksgiving?
This “day of thanks” is the first celebration of the “Holiday Season,” which includes Christmas and New Years. It is a day to count blessings and reflect on the good, and it is traditionally spent in large family gatherings at the home of a relative.
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Vocabulary and Phrases
“Turkey with All the Trimmings”
Dinner is centered around the turkey, and “the trimmings” refers to the many dishes served with it. Favorite trimmings include cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, yams, various vegetables, and pumpkin pie for dessert.
As turkey is the main dish, “Turkey Day” is an alternate name.
The first Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving were pilgrims from Europe who feasted with the Wampanoag tribe. While modern feasts can last three hours, this first feast lasted three days. The pilgrims nibbled dishes such as eel, squash, and venison; pumpkin pie was not invented until 50 years later.
The word “gobble” has a double meaning. When used alone, it means to devour food quickly. When paired–“gobble gobble”–it imitates turkey calls. Additionally, turkeys are often called “gobblers.” In summary, people who love turkey can gobble their gobbler before it has a chance to gobble gobble.
A tiny loaf of bread no bigger than a biscuit. They are served hot and are best eaten with a plop of melting butter.
Also called “stuffing,” this dish starts with shredded bread and is traditionally used to “stuff” the turkey, cooking simultaneously with the bird. The juices permeate the dressing, giving it a delicious, savory flavor, but chefs are warned to cook stuffed birds very thoroughly; an under-cooked, stuffed turkey can cause illness.
The popular term for a turkey leg, so named for the shape. In addition to the holidays, smoked turkey drumsticks are sold year-round in the American south as a sort of “finger-food” because they are portable and tidy. Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey for America’s national symbol rather than the bald eagle; that was a man who appreciated a good drumstick.
This is said as a feaster pushes away from the table. Belts are often loosened at this point, though the practice is frowned on in polite company. Celebrators now drag themselves toward a couch to watch football games.
“Food Coma,” “Turkey Coma”
Once feasters have hauled themselves onto couches, a “food” or “turkey coma” begins, often lasting many hours. Most watch television and sip drinks, and some may outright nap. A chemical in turkey called tryptophan might add to the coma; while levels are slightly higher than in other meats, the obvious reason is the meal, itself. After all, babies with full tummies fall asleep quickly.
The day after Thanksgiving–always a Friday–is infamous as the biggest shopping day of the year and is considered the first “official” shopping day of the Christmas season.
Help Others: many donate time to soup kitchens or shelters during the holiday.
Spend Time with Family: the heart of the holiday season.
Watch Football: the Detroit Lions have traditionally played on Thanksgiving since 1934.
Watch the Parade: New York City held the first Macy’s Parade in 1924, and it is now an institution.
Bake a Pumpkin Pie: the largest ever made weighed 2,020 pounds.
Eat: the good news is that turkey is relatively low in calories. Pumpkin pie is not.