, Newburyport, MA


November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving thoughts

Wednesday, early morning, had a gray look about it.

Trees were barren, and the lawn, swept of leaves, was well frosted.

“A Pilgrim kind of late November morning,’’ I thought as I backed into my spot on the family parking lot.

I had just returned from early morning Mass, and as I reached the front steps, two shots from some distance away rang out — “Blap! Blap!”

“Happy Thanksgiving,’’ I said, my hopes being more for what was — in all likelihood — a less than wild turkey rather than the hunter.

We have been nurturing our flocks of wild turkeys in Newbury for some time, and reports from away indicate there seems to be more and more of them.

Either that, or one very large and growing contingent of them really gets around because they’re reported everywhere.

It’s not unusual to see a line of traffic stopped in its tracks awaiting the end of a turkey parade across an otherwise busy street. One by one, with equal spaces between them, they cross single file without concern from one yard to another.

“How things have changed,’’ I thought, recalling the much earlier time of my youth when the only wild ones we ever saw were in some paintings of the first settlers celebrating their first Thanksgiving out of doors.

Given the kinds of weather we can have, the Pilgrims were a hardy and practical lot, so they celebrated in late September — not November.

So were the friendly Wampanoag Indians who joined them. Together, there were about 90 of them and 60 of the setters and the celebration continued for three days. Where else but out of doors?

It caught on.

Thanksgiving spread at different times and settings across the centuries, but it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s choice in 1939 that moved it to the last Thursday of November. Congress, for marketing reasons, moved it back a week in 1941.

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