My informant is my father who comes from a southern family, although he was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I asked him for any holiday traditions he could think of aside from the ones that I am a part of and I thought of a story he told me about one of our family members a while back and thought it would be perfect. So here is what he said:
“At 16 years old, I didn’t fully understand the meaning of Thanksgiving. To me, it was just a day of eating lots of food with family and friends. But when I moved to Connecticut, my grandmother Ruby showed me the true meaning of the holiday. On Thanksgiving Day, Ruby spent a whole week preparing dinner and wrapping several plates of food in foil. I didn’t understand why she was doing this until she explained that we were going to give the food to people who were less fortunate than us. We drove to a city building where Ruby distributed the plates of food to people living on the streets. Seeing their gratitude and smiles made me realize that Thanksgiving was not just about feasting with family and friends, but also about giving back to the community. From then on, I made a commitment to give back every Thanksgiving, and the lesson my grandmother taught me stayed with me for life.”
From what I know about the origins of Thanksgiving, it started with the Pilgrims in the 1600s. During this time a harvest feast was shared between two groups of people to celebrate an expedition. I am not sure where the turkeys came into play, but that’s not the point of this story.
I too had the issue of not truly understanding the meaning Thanksgiving, but then my father told me this story and through movies and everything else its a time to show others you are grateful towards them and to openly express kindness to others. I enjoy this holiday for the food especially, so it is sad think about the people who do not get to enjoy it. Over the years, I feel Thanksgiving has strayed away from its roots a little bit, but I think the true meaning behind the holiday is to put aside differences for a day to celebrate being grateful and kind to each other.
Something that also comes to mind is the fact that this was my fathers grandmother who if I’m correct is from Texas. I say this because I think of the phrase “Southern Hospitality”. That and maybe things were different and there was more of a community dynamic, something more old school. People are still kind today, but I believe it is important to see more of that during Thanksgiving.