Thanksgiving Origins

by Uncle John

Nearly 400 years ago, long before Thanksgiving Day football, and turkeys were receiving pardons on the front lawn of the White House, America (or, as it was called at the time, “the New World”) experienced its very first Thanksgiving. For those of you who haven’t forgotten those third-grade history lessons, the holiday was born when Plymouth colonists decided to, basically, celebrate having survived up until that point.

As you may recall, colonists had a rough go of it since landing at Plymouth Rock. Savage winters, too much rain, not enough rain, sickness, and invasive pests…all this was making life undoubtedly hard. It’s no surprise, then, that as soon as their crops came in, and they got a nice November day, the colonists started a day of thanks celebration quicker than you can say, “pass thee the squash, will ye?” This day of thanks was also known as the Fall of 1621.

A little-known fact; the Native Americans who inhabited the Plymouth Rock area were not invited to this feast at first. While artists and the kindlier of historians will depict the first Thanksgiving as a combination chow down enjoyed by both Pilgrims and Native Americans, well, it almost wasn’t! So, what really happened you ask? Well, the most believable version of the story goes like this. The Pilgrims, in typical American fashion, (even though they weren’t quite Americans yet) thought that a fun way to celebrate, beside eating and drinking, might be to shoot off some muskets… and, hey, why not some cannons, too? So, that’s just what they did.

All that celebratory gun and cannon fire, of course, drew the attention of their neighbors who, at the time, were the members of the Wampanoag tribe.  Hearing all the gunfire, and not having much else on their social calendars, the Wampanoags figured they’d check it out. Which is what they did.

Upon the arrival of the Wampanoags at this extremely loud and festive feast, historians speculate, based on early pictorial representations of this first Thanksgiving, that the Pilgrims invited their Wampanoag guests to join in the fun; eating and drinking – with some relatively harmless cavorting, perhaps – but no gunfire, as the Wampanoags toted neither gun nor cannon. We’ll never know what reallyhappened, as those in attendance are not here to ask. We do know this though; none present ever imagined that one day the president of their great nation would be pardoning a turkey.

Here at Uncle John’s, we believe that if nothing else, Thanksgiving Day is a day to give thanks; for our God, our country, loved ones, and for those who do good in the world, such as the members of our military. In short, to give thanks for everyone and anyone who makes it their mission to make our world a better place. We thank our customers, too, for without their support, we could not support our families. So, join us in celebrating this special day, and let us all give thanks for the many opportunities, people, freedoms, and blessings that we are so fortunate to have in our lives.

And what’s more, what are some ways that we can all remain grateful and continue to have a thankful heart, even once Thanksgiving Day has passed? Perhaps you might start a gratitude journal; participate in community or volunteering activities to give back to those who are less fortunate; practice small, daily acts of love, compassion, grace and forgiveness; meditate; pray; encourage yourself and others. 

From all of us at Uncle John’s Pride, we wish you and yours a wonderful, safe and happy Thanksgiving! 

Be sure to make your Thanksgiving celebration even more delicious with this sausage stuffing recipe we came across, below. This yummy stuffing takes about an hour and a half of prep time, but it’s well worth the wait. 

Ingredients

16 cups, 1-inch bread cubes, white or sourdough (1 & 1/2-pound loaf)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 onions)

1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)

2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4-pound Uncle John’s Pride sausage, casings removed (optional)

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup dried cranberries

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 7 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove the bread cubes to a very large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, melt the butter and add the onions, celery, apples, parsley, salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add to the bread cubes.
  4. In the same pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a fork while cooking. Add to the bread cubes and vegetables.
  5. Add the chicken stock and cranberries to the mixture, mix well, and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm.

Enjoy!

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