The Thinking 

Why the Work of Thanksgiving Is Worth It

November 23, 2012


JLG writes:

A few excerpts from Lisa Bingham’s column, “Bless Your Heart,” from the Syracuse (Utah) Islander for Thursday, 22 November, 2012. I think she hit this one out of the park (to use an image from a sport I never watch)

Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE! it didn’t used to be so—I mean sure, as a child I loved to sing about the great, big turkey down on Grandpa’s farm, but mostly it was just a blip on the radar screen between Happy Halloween and Merry Christmas.

Growing up we’d make the trek to Grandma and Grandpa’s in Cache Valley, which felt like an eternal pilgrimage. . . .


[T]here was a magnificent feast to behold! Homemade rolls and pies covered every surface, the finest china and polished silver graced white lace tablecloths, and the breezeway pantry was filled with chocolate turkeys, homemade penuche, and dollops of merengue and divinity. The day was spent in prayer, chatter and hours and hours of filling our bellies, letting it settle for a bit, then topping it off again with a swig of Pepsi and “just one more piece of caramel.” We drove home happy, grateful. . . .

The years passed, and before I knew it, over the river and through woods morphed into half a block down the street, as my own parents became host and hostess. Then, they passed the torch to us. And suddenly I became Queen of List Making. Which started me wondering—Is it all worth it? This exhaustive attention to detail for just one simple day?

Right about that time I read an article about a family celebrating Thanksgiving. And though I can’t remember the words that were written, the pictures painted more than a thousand words—people milling about in pajama pants and stained T-shirts, holding paper plates and plastic utensils, standing at the bar around aluminum pans filled with beans and wienies, then gathering around the television to watch football, before figuring out their game plan for hitting the stores at midnight.

The dumbing down of America.

Then I remembered what my Grandma Sybil used to say, “Poor people have poor ways.” Even as a child I knew this meant we become poor when our customs become poor. . . it has nothing to do with money.

And suddenly, there was clarity. The fresh flowers and pressed linens . . the napkin rings and silver pitchers. . . the washed windows and scrubbed baseboards and nine eggs and six cubes of butter in every batch of rolls. . . those weren’t just exhausting “details.” They were gifts.

Gifts from pilgrims who found themselves alive and well in a new home and declared a celebration was in order. Gifts from pioneer ancestors who swept their dirt floors one last time before they were driven from their homes. Gifts from grandmothers who brought out the red velvet covered sterling and taught a child how to polish and shine each piece and from parents who demonstrated through word and action never to treat sacred things lightly.

An abundance from God, Family and Country, wrapped up in culture and tied with tradition, which must never be replaced with pajama pants and paper plates.

Bless every one of their hearts, for they have filled my cup to overflowing. And as I lay me down to sleep, I give thanks that no matter how small my bank account, I will never, ever be poor.

—– Comments —-

Terry Morris writes:

Good article. Thanksgiving is one of my favorites too, for all of the reasons above, and at least one more – because it is one of only two truly American holidays. The other being Independence Day, of course.

Paul writes:

I agree people without money are not necessarily poor in spirit.  I called on a black grandmother in my late twenties for my job.  She lived in a deteriorating lower middle-class black neighborhood.  Fats Domino lived a few blocks away all of his life.  I was familiar with the neighborhood from having delivered groceries for my grandmother’s grocery when in high school. She was solicitous, and her house was neat and clean.

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