T.G.I.T. T.G! I.T!

(Thank Goodness it’s Thanksgiving. Turkey Gizzards! I’m Thankful!)

By Angela Mazziotta

Welp! Here it is, or depending on your timing, there it went: Thanksgiving Day 2012. Please enjoy my warmest wishes for a pheasant – er, ‘scuse me, pleasant –Día de Turkey or maybe for you it’s a Tofurkey Day. Gobble my happy wishes up and dish out your own, thankyou! Please. You’re welcome. I’m so glad once a year there is a day to remind me and the rest of mankind about manners.

For the most part, Thanksgiving is a no obligation holiday. Aside from deciding whether or not you’re the hostess with the mostest, besides choosing between feasts presented by friends and family, not counting the sweaty palms over the success of your first turkey, massive casserole or dirty dessert, Thanksgiving is easy – it seems to take care of itself. “Did I eat?” check. “Did I drink?” check PLUS. “Did I get merry?” ch-ch-ch-check.

Every year, as this day of days waddles near, I begin to salivate over that predestined menu; I like to picture mouths united across the states with some extra wetness and drool. A few months ago, a friend of mine wanted to make some Thanksgiving menu items for a regular ol’ Tuesday night dinner but worried that it might be too faux pas. It’s funny that cranberry sauce, stuffing, casseroles and turkey seem to belong exclusively to each other for one day a year (and as leftovers for days after). How monogamous!…? It occurred to me that the fall season’s natural harvest must have informed the evolution of the classic Thanksgiving meal we enjoy on the fourth Thursday every November. Sidenote: from 1939 to 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday in November. Ya know, to juice up the depressing economy. Frank goodness Franksgiving didn’t catch on – it just doesn’t have the same ring to it! Hungry to learn more about the holiday with turkey and thanks at the center(piece), I investigated and learned a ton, in butterballs.

Maybe not surprisingly, the menu has evolved from the original 1621 autumn harvest feast. For all you Traditional Traceys: let me begin by reassuring you that the pilgrims likely indulged in a little wild turkey (not to be confused with the bourbon I drank in the limo to my high school homecoming). In more abundance at that first celebration might have been wildfowl like duck, geese and (sharp intake of breath) SWAN, as well as seal and lobster. Records indicate that we can thank the Wampanoag guests for bringing five deer to this first feast. White potatoes and sweet potatoes did not arrive until about 50 years later – WHAT?! No mashed taters?! No sweet potato and marshmallow dream casserole? What’s left then? Probably squash, pumpkin, corn, carrots, onions, turnips and garlic. Definitely no pie. Sorry babes.

Fast forward to the early-19thcentury and meet Sarah Josepha Hale. On her resuméyou’ll find Author of famous nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”,Editor of popular women’s magazine, “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” and Petitioned for 36 years and to 13 presidents to make Thanksgiving an official holiday. Damn girl, you’re hired! Honest Abe gobbled every morsel of Hale’s perfectly poached presumption that the holiday could unite the country in the midst of the Civil War. In 1863, President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday. Hale went on to publish Thanksgiving recipes in several cookbooks and in Godey’s Lady’s Book. She is literally the “Mother of Thanksgiving Dinner” as we know it today.

Now that I’ve satisfied your knowledge craving, I’ll end with this made-up sentiment: Whether you’re a veggie, meat-head, athlete, couch potato, dancer, opera singer, business man/woman, etc., I hope you commune with all your favorite people and stuff yourself into slumber that feels like 100 years. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

P.S. Please consider signing the petition below proposing a 2nd Thanksgiving within a year, during the spring. We could come up with a completely different codified menu with fresh ingredients unique to the spring season. Imagine recipes made with: sardines, halibut, calamari, eggs and more eggs, artisan cheese, lamb, hare (was that you, Easter Bunny?), artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, brussels sprouts (don’t make that face; and yes there is an ‘s’ at the end of brussels), apricots, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and rhubarb! Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY (just kidding about those last guys, guys).

1. Angela Mazziotta

2. Ghost of Sarah Josepha Hale