The Pilgrims are credited for starting the tradition of Thanksgiving in 1621, but how did it become a national holiday?
What follows is a quick timeline of the evolution of Thanksgiving from a tradition to being an official holiday celebrated on a specific date.
*November 23, 1775 – The Revolutionary War was seven months old, and patriots in Boston called for a “Day of Public Thanksgiving to be held in the colony of Massachusetts to celebrate their “Rights and Privileges” despite the attempts of their “barbarous Enemies” to deprive them of such.” It was a very anti-British celebration.
*December 18, 1777 – The war was still going strong, but to celebrate the victory of American Continental forces in the Battle of Saratoga, General George Washington called for Thursday, December 18 to be a day in which to engage in “Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise.” For the first time, all thirteen colonies participated.
*In 1879, President Washington called for a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. Congress agreed, but did not declare an official holiday.
Thomas Jefferson, our third president, believed that a Thanksgiving holiday was a violation of the separation of church and state, so there was no official day of thanksgiving between 1815 and 1863.
*In 1846 Sarah Josephina Hale, the editor of Gody’s Lady’s Book, began a 17-year letter writing campaign in support of an official national Thanksgiving holiday. In September of 1863, she wrote to Abraham Lincoln, imploring him to set an official day for thanksgiving.
*October 3, 1863 – President Lincoln, in a bid to heal a the nation during the Civil War, announced: ”I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States…to set apart and observe he last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Lincoln proclaimed that the official Thanksgiving day would be the last Thursday in November. Sarah Josephina Hale was 74 years old, but lived to see the official holiday she’d fought so hard for.
*In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt, by executive order, moved the holiday to the third Thursday in November, in order to allow more shopping days until Christmas. (Thanksgiving fell on November 30 that year.) The new holiday was called Franksgiving by those who were opposed. There was such an outcry that Congress officially moved Thanksgiving back to the fourth Thursday of November, where it remains today.
Please everyone, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
I’m excited to announce that I have a new sweet holiday release.
A Home for the Holidays is the story of a world-traveling engineer who has never had a place to call home, except for during the four years he spent in Holly, Idaho, living with his aunt while attending high school. Jason Regan has no time to celebrate holidays, and no reason to settle down…until a Holly, Idaho judge sentences him to 100 hours of community service at the local animal shelter for a decade-old unpaid parking ticket. Jason is, in effect, sentenced to Christmas.
Tess Evans is a recovering lawyer who now runs Forever Home animal shelter. She is thrilled to have a new volunteer, even after discovering that it’s the guy she’d crushed on in high school; a guy who had no clue that she was alive until a blabby friend told the world. But Tess will do her best to put her embarrassment behind her to join forces with Jason to empty the shelter by Christmas.
This series introduces my new small town series Holly, Idaho, so I’m giving away a Holly Jolly Christmas mug to one lucky commentor.
Here’s an excerpt from my story:
“Hold on!” Tess Evans hung up the phone as her dad attempted to open the door to Forever Home while balancing two cinnamon lattes and carrying his toolbox. Pete Evans had a proclivity for doing things on his own, be it raising three motherless daughters or opening a door with his hands full. He was usually successful, but in this case, he was about to lose a latte.
“Really, Dad?” Tess said as she rescued the top cup of steaming coffee just before it toppled.
“I almost made it.”
Tess took the other cup from him and set it on her desk. Pete set down the other, then jerked his head toward the door leading to the dog kennel area. “Will Lisa be done feeding before her coffee gets cold?”
“Judging from the decibel level, I think she’s almost done.” Morning feeding was always a loud and happy time as the food trolley rolled along the concrete aisle between rows of kennels. But once the dogs had their meals, barking stopped as eating commenced, and the sound level dropped accordingly.
“Why the big smile?” Pete asked as he set down his toolbox.
“I don’t need you today.” Tess was still feeling slightly dazed from the phone call she’d just received from justice court.
“You don’t need me?” Her dad sounded shocked, but Tess read the relief in his gaze. Despite having a very tight schedule on his latest project, he stopped by the shelter every Tuesday morning to spend an hour nailing things back together. The problem with retrofitting an old garage into a new animal shelter was that there were a lot of hidden issues that poked their heads up at the most inopportune times. She and Lisa had painted the place cheerful colors—yellow and aqua—and kept it sparkling clean, but they didn’t have the time or the skillset to deal with loose concrete bolts and flapping siding—the latest ills.
“I have a new warm body.” Which was nothing short of a miracle this time of year when everyone was so busy. There was just one teensy part of that good news that kept Tess from doing a full-on happy dance.
“Cat? Dog? Iguana? No, wait. You said warm body, not cold. Scratch the iguana.”
Tess smiled. “No, Dad. A human. One with building skills. Judge Nelson sentenced a guy to community service and decided that I needed the most help right now. I get him for one hundred hours.”
“One hundred hours?” Pete tipped his chin toward the ceiling as he did a quick mental calculation. “Twelve days? That seems like a healthy sentence.” His eyes narrowed. “What, exactly, did this guy do to earn that much community service?”
“Parking ticket. And it’s twelve and a half days.” Judge Nelson’s assistant had emphasized that the entire sentence was to be served, down to the last hour. No early outs due to holiday bon homie.
Her dad’s eyebrows lifted. “Did he park in the mayor’s reserved space?”
“The ticket is years old. I think Judge Nelson gave him ten hours for each year it wasn’t paid.”
Pete gave a short laugh. “That sounds like something the judge would do. Who is it?”
“Jason Regan.” The instant the name left her mouth, Tess felt her cheeks go warm, and gave herself a mental kick.
You are not the same geeky girl who crushed on the man long ago.
Law school had changed her, given her confidence, leadership abilities…migraines. But if she hadn’t gone, hadn’t buried herself in research and paperwork for eighty hours a week, she wouldn’t have known how happy she was not doing that, or that her true calling was managing the animal shelter her late grandmother had started five years ago to take the pressure off the regional shelter that Holly shared with the nearby town of Everly.
Her dad’s forehead creased. “Must be an out-of-towner.”
“No,” she said in a casual voice. Too casual? “He was a senior during my sophomore year. He left right after high school. Mae Regan is his aunt.” It seemed best to leave out the part about him being her unrequited crush and utterly oblivious to her existence, except for one small incident in the school cafeteria. Oblivious, that is, until gossipy Melissa Braddock had read the signs, guessed the truth, and ratted Tess out to the general school population.
“Just doing you a favor,” Melissa had said when Tess had confronted her in horror after word had gotten back to her. “How else will you get his attention?” The amazing thing was that Melissa really believed she had done Tess a favor.
But Tess would give Jason this—he never treated her differently. Meaning, of course, that he hadn’t given her so much as a side-eye. Her hope was that the news had never reached him, or if it had, he’d brushed it off as so much gossip.
“Jason Regan…” Her dad’s eyebrows drew together. “Oh, yeah. He was the kid with the mean three-pointer.”
“That’s the one.” Tess shooed away her embarrassed teenage self as she confronted her new reality. “He’s mine for one hundred hours, and I intend to get every bit of work out of him that I possibly can.”
Mr. Regan was going to be a terribly busy man, and she was close to betting money that he wasn’t as amazing as she remembered him. Backyards got smaller and all that stuff. She’d probably take one look at him and wonder what the big deal had been.
To enter to win the holiday mug, tell me the place where you most enjoy spending the holidays. Please note that I’ll be on the road tomorrow, but will answer comments when I get back home. I’ll announce the winner on Friday, October 30.
Our winter wood arrived late last spring. We get it every three years. The wood comes in on a logging truck, and generally consists of wood that is harvested as a sort of tidying up of the forests
to decrease the amount of tinder during fire season–deadfalls or smaller trees growing too closely together.
The wood is offloaded into a pile which delights the cats, because now they have an excellent hideaway. This year it also delighted a (photo shy) cottontail bunny who has taken up residence. He and the cats get along.
After the wood is unloaded, it has to be cut and split, then stacked. My husband used to use a chainsaw to make his living, so he’s pretty good at cutting the logs into rounds. The amount of work is measured by the number of times the chainsaw gas tank is filled. He’s taking it easy after back surgery, so he usually buzzes one or two tanks then stops. On a big wood cutting day, he’ll do up to six.
My job is to chuck the wood–toss it out of the way, thus giving room to roll another log off the pile and start cutting.
After the cutting we split, which is my favorite part now that we have a wood splitter. then stack. When we have enough wood for winter, we stop and the log pile remains a playhouse for the cats and a home for the bunny.
We are fortunate to have the technology–insulated walls, an airtight stove–that allow us to heat efficiently with wood. This was not always the case and American houses in the 1800s were cold, drafty places before the adoption of the enclosed stove, which I will talk about in my October blog.
I do love the log pile and miss it when it’s gone.
Thank you for your patience, dear friends. I am happy to announce two winners of $10 Amazon gift certificates for the Thankful Blog. I really enjoyed reading all the comments, which made me feel even more grateful for our many blessings.
The winners, chosen by a random number generator, are:
I’m lucky to live close to a bison ranch and these are photos I took as we drove by the other day. They are impressive creatures and when I hear about people having close-up encounters with them in nearby Yellowstone National Park, I always wonder what they are thinking. These animals are powerful!
Here are a few bison facts:
Bison are the largest mammals in North America. (Which is why you shouldn’t try to get close to them.)
Historians believe that bison are called buffalo in North America because boeuf is the French word for beef.
Bison have lived continuously in the Yellowstone National Park area since prehistoric times.
When a bison’s tail is hanging down or switching, it’s calm. If it’s up or standing straight out, it’s about to do something aggressive. (I’m sure that tail can go up fast, so I wouldn’t use the hanging tail as a safety barometer.)
Bison can run up to 35 miles per hour.
The average life span is 10 to 20 years.
Bison ancestors came from Asia over the land bridge during the Pleistocene. The Asian ancestors were much larger.
Bison are near-sighted.
Bison calves are reddish and are called red dogs.
Bison can be pronounced with an “s” or a “z” sound. The “s” is standard, unless you are rooting for North Dakota State University. They use the “z” proudly.
I ask because I think that a person has to actively search it out today, whereas in times past it was a fairly common hard candy.
Horehound is the common name of the Marrubium plant, a member of the mint family. Horehound has been used for centuries by many cultures to treat just about everything–fevers, malaria, snake bite, hepatitis, bites by rabid animals. It’s useful in treating digestive problems, respiratory problems, jaundice, parasitic worms. It is used as a poultice, and inhaled as a snuff. The leaves are boiled into tea and made into cough syrups.
And it’s also made into a candy, but after compiling that list, I kind of wonder why. I guess it’s like medicine candy.
If you are the adventuresome sort, it’s easy to make homemade horehound candy. To begin, you boil several handfuls of horehound leaves in water for 15-20 minutes, smooshing the leaves as they cook down. Then you let the brew sit for a spell so that the water becomes a horehound tea.
Strain the liquid from the leaves. This is where the math comes in. You’ll need to measure your liquid and add 4 times that amount of brown sugar. So if you have 1 cup of horehound tea, you’ll use 4 cups of brown sugar. Then, more math, you add light corn syrup in 1/4 the amount of the liquid. So again using 1 cup of tea, you’d add 1/4 cup of light corn syrup.
Cook this mixture to the hard crack stage (the liquid solidifies into a ribbon when you drop it into ice water) which is about 300 degrees if you go modern and use a candy thermometer. You pour the mixture into a buttered pan, then score the top while it’s soft so that you can break it into squares later.
I’m so glad to be here during the Boot Scootin’ Special Week! Today I’m here to tell you that you can’t scoot those boots if you don’t have music to scoot them to, and I’m going to specifically talk about Western Swing.
What is the difference between Western Swing and good old country music?
All music evolves and changes over time as it is influenced by other musical genres and the people who play the music. Not everyone is satisfied with playing the same song the same way and look for ways to jazz it up a little. That is literally how western swing came to be.
Western swing evolved from the cowboy and country dance music played in dance halls and parties during the early part of the last century. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, classic western music played in the southern and western US states was influenced by the blues, jazz, folk, polka and eventually swing itself. The instruments started changing, too. Classic western music is played on a fiddle and or/guitar, but the western swing movement added piano, drums and, of course, the steel guitar, which gave the genre its distinctive sound.
Unlike big bands and swing bands of the same era, which tended to follow a set score, western swing bands tended to improvise, giving them a fun and unpredictable quality, but it was a quality people liked. Dancers loved western swing, which could be danced with a variety of styles. Thanks to its tempo, it was possible to do round dances, two-steps or even the jitter bug in later days. Before World War II, recording companies had a hard time coming up with a marketing name for western swing. They called it hillbilly music, old time music, and hot string music. Many of the bands that played it called it simply “western music”.
In 1933, Bob Wills organized The Texas Playboys, one of the iconic western swing bands, with two fiddles, two guitars, a banjo, drums, and of course the steel guitar, played by Leon McAuliffe. If you listen carefully to some of his songs, you can hear him call on “Leon” to play. Other western swing bands were The Fort Worth Doughboys, Brown and his Musical Brownies, Light Crust Doughboys, Spade Cooley and His Buckle-Busters and Billy Gray and His Western Okies.
In the mid-1930s Fort Worth was the center of Western Swing, but California would soon catch up. During World War II western swing reached the height of its popularity with promotors creating circuits of dance halls for the bands to travel to. Bob Wills played a dance at Venice Pier in Los Angeles attended by 15,000 people. Riverside Rancho, also in Los Angeles, had a 10,0000 square foot dance floor and hosted huge dance parties.
Western swing began to ebb in the 1950s, however the genre influenced rock and roll and rockabilly during that decade. One of Bill Haley’s early bands was known as Bill Haley and the 4 Aces of Western Swing. In the 1970s, western swing experienced a revival thanks to groups such as Asleep at the Wheel, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen and Lyle Lovett.
In case you aren’t familiar with the western swing sound, some classic western swing songs are Pistol Packin’ Mama, San Antonio Rose, Stay All Night, Stay a Little Longer and one of my favorites, which you can listen to below, Big Balls in Cowtown.
Are you a western swing fan? If so what’s a favorite western swing dance song of yours? I’ll choose two commenters to receive a $10 Amazon gift certificate.