If you have no Thanksgiving traditions, it’s OK. Check the internet and you’ll find a complex mix of customs , folklore and dates in the holidays origin. So you can start your own annual traditions anytime and actually be in step with the holiday.
I once thought it a sure thing that generous Native Americans in the 1600s helped the starving Pilgrims. After a fruitful harvest they sat down together at a long table, feasted on wild turkey, hand-tilled corn, squash and pumpkin pie. Shortly thereafter, Norman Rockwell painted an illustration of a family preparing to carve a big gobbler sometime shortly before or after World War II, and all has been the same since.
But actually, like much in life, origins are random. Change arrives.
We are always shaping old and new into what fits our times and that includes Thanksgiving. You’ll find scarce agreement among serious historians and those who claim expertise about what actually happened at the first Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Similar harvest feasts occur around the world. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October. We’ve been bending and shaping the American version of the holiday with changes over time.
Who raised during the Great Depression would have imagined Black Friday being a shopping binge tradition connected with the turkey holiday?
Would the Pilgrims have enjoyed watching the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions play football after eating the turkey? Maybe so if they had big soft couches and chairs to sleep off the meal in, rather than hard, wooden homemade furniture. The Pilgrims worried about winter food as they cleaned their plates from the Thanksgiving feast.
We worry snow or ice will make it hard to get to the grocery store.
But the basic idea about being Thankful for blessings is a good idea and endures through the changes. Here are some things I’m grateful for in Platte County.
I’ve noticed a construction crane and more economic growth going on along the NW 64th Street corridor from Kansas City North to Parkville. We’re lucky to have new jobs arriving in the county. Those are also near downtown Kansas City, near the metro center. We can count them as sustainable growth.
Speaking of downtown, The Kansas City Star recently outlined many major projects completed, underway or planned there. Those are jobs within commuting range of the Northland.
Parks, trails and recreation continue to grow and improve. Platte County, the government entity, has gone from almost no parks to a vibrant system in a little more a decade. That’s after a long-delayed start behind every other county and most large cities in the metro area. Plus the county shares voter-approved tax funds with communities and also supports the arts. Parks supported the county’s 175th anniversary events during the past, which boosted a feeling of community countywide.
I’m grateful the Kansas City Royals appeared in a World Series and stood a chance of winning through the final out of Game 7. Actually, all my favorite sports teams — Go, Mizzou — are winning this autumn, too. It’s a strange feeling.
We can say the same about the weather. Yes, I know it’s cold and wet now, but what a summer we had. Cool temperatures in July and August, plenty of rain and then a dry out in autumn that allowed crop harvest. Now more moisture has arrived. A miserable cold winter might be ahead, like last winter, but after last summer, it doesn’t feel right to complain much.
So that’s about it for county generalities.
Once again, whatever your Thanksgiving tradition is, I hope you enjoy the day. Feel free to invent new.
The Pilgrims did. So did shoppers. As a matter of fact, maybe feeling free is the best thing to give thanks for this time of year. When you look around at troubles around the globe, and remember American freedom, Platte County seems pretty prosperous and secure, blessed in fact.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area with his family, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.