But see, in our open clearings, how golden the melons lie; Enrich them with sweets and spices, and give us the pumpkin-pie!

Margaret Junkin Preston, a southern lady and noted poet of the Confederacy who lived in the 1800s, wrote these words about the beauty of the fall countryside ... and pumpkin pie! I wonder if she was thinking about the Thanksgiving feast that, for centuries, has included roast turkey and pumpkin pie. And were there any wild turkeys in that field?


They roamed the countryside in large numbers back then.

In case you are curious, Margaret Junkin Preston was the sister-in-law of Major Thomas J. Jackson, popularly known in history as Stonewall Jackson (personal aside: one of my great uncles, or maybe great-great, rode with Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War).

This Thursday, many of us will be gathering with loved ones — family and friends — to celebrate Thanksgiving, This national tradition of feasting, fellowship, and gratitude for all that is good in life began in the 1600s when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. So today, many folks are looking forward to turkey and pumpkin pie and ... football.

Yes, football.

Erma Bombeck once said, "Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-times take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence."

To many, the thought of Thanksgiving without football would be as absurd as the Fourth of July without fireworks. The first national Thanksgiving Day football broadcast occurred in 1934 and was heard on the NBC radio network of 94 stations.

Throughout the country, people listened to the game between the Detroit Lions (a new team in the NFL that year) and the Chicago Bears.

Five NFL teams have birds as mascots: the Atlanta Falcons, the Baltimore Ravens, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Seattle Seahawks. Although there will be three professional football games aired on national television on Thanksgiving Day, none of these teams is among them.

It seems that man has been eating turkey dinners in North America for hundreds of years — long before professional football became a part of our culture. How is it that the poor old turkey ended up on so many Thanksgiving tables? Thanksgiving is a day that was set aside long ago to acknowledge the many blessings in our lives.

Although history suggests that there were other celebrations of Thanksgiving in North America before their arrival, the Pilgrims that landed at Plymouth, Mass., in 1620 are credited with the first Thanksgiving Day festival. It was observed with a large feast that they shared with the native Wampanoag Indians in the fall of 1621.

Immigrants and Native Americans celebrated together the first Thanksgiving Feast.

Several United States Presidents proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving during their terms in office. But it did not become the national holiday, as we know it today, until 1941 when it was established by a joint resolution of Congress.

The fourth Thursday of November was officially set as a national holiday for Thanksgiving.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "I awoke with devout Thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new." I hope that Thanksgiving Day finds you counting your blessings and sharing the joy of family, faithful friends, and the beauty of nature.


Have a safe and happy holiday and "Gobble till you wobble!"

Don't forget to fill your feeders so that your backyard visitors can have a Thanksgiving feast of their own.