Turning Sixty Four on Thanksgiving

Gratitude crosses  species and time.

Gratitude crosses all species, boundaries and time.

Turning Sixty Four on Thanksgiving Day is in my very personal opinion an invitation to clamor back into the annals of a very busy life and come up with a million reasons to be thankful.

I was born a blue baby and as medical insiders know, that was almost as serious as a death sentence especially in 1950. My 80 cm umbilical cord had wrapped itself 3 times around my neck like a boa constrictor on a Paleo Diet. No wonder that the midwife upon seeing this immediately opened the window to my mother’s room and called in the gardener to serve as the male witness to my emergency baptizing. I’m not sure if there was a divine correlation between that urgent sacrament action, that was supposed to give me protection from evil on my imminent journey to heaven, and the fact that I desperately fought for my life from that moment on. It was a long fight of almost 6 years in and out of hospitals, before I finally seem to get a grip on life. I’m thankful for everyone who saved me on that first day and played a part in that healing process.

At age six it became time to grow stronger, or else my frequently returning bouts with pneumonia and asthma would still get the better of me, so my mom and dad sent me to Sensei Dreu, who taught Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Karaté and Tai Chi. I became a ‘fanatic’ follower of his arts and I am thankful for that as it has guided and saved me on many occasions since. The fact that so many years later I still remember Sensei’s name points at gratitude for his lessons.

I’m grateful for the family I grew up in and the fabric of value that was installed. My family believed in travel, languages, compassion and lack of judgement without knowing the facts. This has helped me greatly to become a better person and understand or at least tolerate many human idiosyncrasies. I’m forever grateful for the many dinner table discussions we had as a family, as they have guided me like a laser beam in the process of understanding myself.

Paul McCartney wrote “When I’m Sixty Four” and the Beatles put it on Sgt. Pepper and we all sang it for a week or two. We never caught the meaning nor the message, it was something to just sing along with until something came along. It was 1966 or so and Kennedy had been murdered and the Cuban Missile crisis was fresh in our memories, Vietnam was an ugly enigma and Berlin had a brick wall through its heart. Turning 64 seemed a galaxy away. I’m grateful I didn’t catch the message either, because it kind of meant that my early teenage years were uncomplicated. The Who sang “Hope I die before I get old” in their hit song My Generation and Elton John sang the eternally beautiful “Sixty Years On” and we were all young and innocently oblivious of the facts and realities.

As a teenager who entered adulthood in the late sixties, music and flower power walked hand in hand as we preached to love each other while storming the barricades of perceived oppression with angry slogans and molotov cocktails. In hindsight it was all a matter of helpless frustration with the manipulations and machinations of power. I’m not particularly fond of the fact that this has not changed since those days, but I’m extremely grateful that I survived the following dozen years, often tarnished with darkness, violence and pain. I am grateful that I was allowed to shake the bad memories and embrace the good ones as they have helped me become a much better person.

I am grateful to the 3 women who courageously tried to stay at my side during those years, probably knowing or at least sensing that one day I would move on in a continued search for my true soul.  And I’m extremely grateful that in my sliding door life of a thousand changes, my true soul came to find me ten years ago, when she traveled to a land she had never even heard of and found me against all, even abnormal, odds. The stars were aligned then and have been guiding us ever since. And to boot, she came with an instant family of great children that now light up our Holidays and our lives.

Yep I’m grateful to be sixty four today, even if that means having outlived my all time favorite four legged Scootertje and my brother and pal Thom. I’m grateful for having had them in my life and I say thanks for the many blessings, family and friends that have come my way over all these years.

Happy Thanksgiving

When I’m Sixty Four – Paul McCartney

When I get older losing my hair, many years from now

Will you still be sending me a valentine, Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

If I’d been out til quarter to three, Would you lock the door?

Will you still need me, Will you still feed me
, When I’m sixty-four?

A Thanksgiving Lesson

A Thanksgiving LessonThe following Thanksgiving Lesson has been floating around cyberspace and after receiving it more than once in my “inbox” this Thanksgiving season, I began searching the World Wide Web for its original author. While I didn’t find the exact article, I believe the original article may have been published November 20, 2009, and authored by Chip Wood.

“Did you know that our Pilgrim forefathers tried communism when they first landed at Plymouth Rock?

How’s that for a dramatic beginning to a story? Years ago, when I used to give a lot of talks to high school classes, this was one of my favorites. It always got the students’ attention. And I have to admit, I also enjoyed seeing some liberal teachers get so upset with me they almost lost their lunches.

Here’s the story I told those students in those long-ago presentations.

The Pilgrims who arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620 were incredibly brave and hardy souls. They were motivated by the noblest of virtues. They vowed, each and every one, to be as selfless as possible—to always put the needs of the group first. They agreed to own everything in common and to share everything equally.

And their naïve piety almost killed the entire colony.

We all know how the adventure begins. A group of devout Christians, seeking religious freedom for themselves and eager to ‘advance the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ’ in the New World, sets sail from Plymouth, England in 1620. An investment consortium known as the Merchant Adventurers of London paid the expenses for the trip, including chartering the Mayflower and its 40-man crew.

The deal was simple: The Pilgrims agreed to establish a colony in northern Virginia where they would plant crops, fish the waters and hunt in the forests. They would return a certain percentage of each year’s bounty to London until their debt had been repaid.

Things went wrong from the start. First, the syndicate changed the deal, drastically reducing the amount they would loan the Pilgrims. The brave adventurers were forced to sell many of their own possessions, and much of their provisions, to pay for the trip. As a result, they landed in the New World badly short of supplies.

Next, the small ship they had purchased in Holland, which was to accompany them to America so they could fish the waters off the coast, had to be abandoned in England.

Shortly after they set sail, the ship, badly misnamed the Speedwell, became ‘open and leakie as a sieve,’ as its captain reported. They returned to Dartmouth, where the boat was dry-docked for three weeks as repairs were made.

But to no avail. After leaving Dartmouth, the group sailed less than 300 miles when the captain decided the Speedwell ‘must bear up or sink at sea.’ This time the ships put in at Plymouth, England, where it was decided to go on without the Speedwell. On Sept. 16, 1620, the Mayflower set out alone to cross the Atlantic.

A month later, when they had reached the halfway point, fierce storms battered the ship and threatened the lives of passengers and crew. Many wanted to turn back for England. But if they abandoned the journey, they would lose everything they had invested. The Pilgrims decided to trust in God and sail on.

Despite the storms, the hazards, the crowding and the poor food, only one Pilgrim died during the voyage, a young servant. His death was balanced by the birth of a son to Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins, who named their child Oceanus.

There were 102 passengers on board the Mayflower—50 men, 20 women and 32 children—along with a crew of 40. The captain set a course along the 42nd parallel, a bearing that would carry him to Cape Cod. From there he intended to swing south and follow the coast to northern Virginia.

A little over two months later, on Nov. 19, land was finally sighted and the captain turned the ship south, toward Virginia. However, they soon encountered such ‘dangerous shoals and roaring breakers’ that they turned back to Massachusetts. It was then that the grumblings of dissent turned into a full-fledged roar. Many of the passengers insisted on landing in Massachusetts, where ‘none had power to command them.’

The Pilgrim leaders decided to meet the explosive situation by asking each male on board, except for the crew, to sign a formal document that would lay ‘the first foundation of their government in this place.’ Thus the Mayflower Compact was born.

The Pilgrims were a diverse lot. Many of them were illiterate. Yet in creating the Mayflower Compact they showed an extraordinary political maturity. They agreed to establish a government by the consent of the governed, with just and equal laws for all. Each adult male, regardless of his station in life—gentleman, commoner or servant—would have an equal vote in deciding the affairs of the colony. Of the 65 men and boys on board, all but 24 signed the agreement. The only ones who did not were the children of those adults who did sign, or men who were too sick to do so.

The first decision made under the covenant was to abandon efforts to reach Virginia and instead to settle in New England. The first explorers landed at Plymouth on Dec. 21, 1620.

Weather delays kept the majority from seeing their new home for nearly two weeks. On Jan. 2, 1621, work began on the first building they would erect—a storehouse.

Because provisions were so scanty they decided that the land would be worked in common, produce would be owned in common, and goods would be rationed equally. Not unlike the society Karl Marx envisioned of ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’

Unfortunately, thanks to illness, injury and attitude, the system did not work. Pilferage from the storehouse became common. Suspicions of malingering were muttered. Over the course of that first, harsh winter, nearly half of the colonists perished. Four families were wiped out completely; only five of 18 wives survived. Of the 29 single men, hired hands and servants, only 10 were alive when spring finally came.

The colonists struggled desperately for two more years. When spring arrived in April 1623, virtually all of their provisions were gone. Unless that year’s harvest improved, they feared few would survive the next winter. The Pilgrim leaders decided on a bold course. The colony would abandon its communal approach and permit each person to work for his own benefit, not for the common good.

Here is how the governor of the colony, William Bradford, explained what happened then. This is taken from his marvelously readable memoir (if you can make adjustments for the Old English spellings), History of Plimoth Plantation:

The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Plato & other ancients, applauded by some of later times;—that ye taking away of properties, and bringing it in communitie into a commone wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.

For this communitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion & discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For yet young men that were most able and fitte for labor & services did repine that they should spend their time & strength to worke for other men’s wives and children with out any recompense.

Once they replaced communal efforts with individual responsibility the differences were dramatic—and life-saving. Men went into the fields earlier and stayed later. In many cases, their wives and even their children (some barely past the toddler stage) worked right alongside them. More acres were planted, more trees were felled, more houses were built, and more game was slaughtered because of one simple change: People were allowed to keep the fruits of their own labors.

The Pilgrims arrived deeply in debt to the London merchants who sponsored them. They worked for more than 20 years, as individuals and as a community, to pay off the crushing burden. In 1627, they borrowed money to pay off the Merchants Adventurers. By 1645, they had paid off the entire debt to the company which had advanced them the sums to pay off the Merchants.

When their debt had been paid in full (at the astronomical interest rate of 45 percent per year), the company that had advanced the sums wrote the Pilgrims:

Let it not be grievous to you, that you have been instruments to break the ice for others who come after with less difficulty. The honour shall be yours to the world’s end.

As we celebrate this coming Thanksgiving Day, some 380 years after the Pilgrims celebrated the first of this uniquely American holiday, let us remember the sacrifices they made… the devotion they showed… and the lessons they learned.

Until next time, keep your powder dry.

—Chip Wood

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Thanksgiving Weekend in Fernandina Beach

Thanksgiving weekend in Fernandina BeachFernandina Beach, FL – Kick off the holiday shopping season in historic downtown Fernandina Beach, Florida during the Thanksgiving Weekend! The popular Pajama Party Sale & Contest, held annually on the Friday after Thanksgiving, will begin at 8:00 AM, on November 25, 2011. Amelia Island shoppers are encouraged to dress in their favorite pajamas, fuzzy slippers, and other assorted sleepwear, and stroll along Centre Street and throughout downtown Fernandina Beach, exploring the eclectic shops, local attractions and eateries. Pajama clad shoppers will enjoy deals and discounts, along with fresh juice, coffee and pastries to fuel their shopping spirit.

PJ PartyShoppers that wish to be eligible for “Best Dressed Individual Shopper in Pajamas”, “Best Dressed Duo or Trio in Pajamas” and “Best Dressed Shopping Group in Pajamas” must wear their pajamas (of course!) and have a free photo taken at the judges booth in the 200 block of Centre Street. Free contest photo registration ends at Noon, but most shopping specials will be available all day!

But wait, there’s more:

A full day of entertainment leads up to the official City of Fernandina Beach Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, scheduled for Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 6:00 PM, at the foot of Centre Street. Starting at 12 Noon, carolers, choirs, dancers and singers will entertain visitors and locals on Amelia Island with the sights and sounds of the Christmas holiday season.

Santa and Mrs. Claus

Santa Claus will arrive at 2:00 PM at the Fernandina Harbor Marina aboard the Ye Ole Pirate charter boat and all are invited to welcome him to town! Santa will make his way over to the Train Depot at the foot of Centre Street to be available to meet and take pictures with the kids of the community until 5:00 PM. Photos with pets will also be available.

For more area holiday activities, access our Event Calendar right here at www.SearchAmelia.com/event-calendar/. If you know of an event that is open to the public in our community, please send me the details at Judie@SearchAmelia.com.

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Be Thankful

Be Thankful

Photographer Unknown, but Thank you!

Thanksgiving kicks off the joyous season of faith and good tidings.

A time of the year we dedicate to sharing with loved ones; and to give of our time, talents and money to those less fortunate.

We each hold in our hearts a piece of one another and I am thankful to you all!

Everyday we have something to be thankful for… and today… we are thankful that the photographer was not standing on the other side of this charming couple!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Holiday Safety Message

Thanksgiving Holiday Safety MessageFernandina Beach, FL – Across the country, Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires caused by cooking equipment. As family and friends come together to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, the City of Fernandina Beach Fire-Rescue Department would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone in our community to make safety one of your top priorities.

Along with remembering all of the things that we are thankful for, the Thanksgiving Day meal is typically a highlight of everyone’s celebration. It is very important that we practice some basic safety measures as the kitchen becomes the center of activity and a gathering place for our family and friends. Please review the following safety tips as part of your holiday preparation.

• Never leave anything cooking on the stovetop unattended.
• When cooking your turkey, make sure someone is always in the house. Also, remember to check your turkey frequently while it is cooking.
• As the kitchen becomes the gathering area for family and friends, be certain that children are watched carefully and kept at least 3 feet away from the hot stove.
• As food gets hot it becomes very dangerous. Steam or a splash from vegetables, gravy, or other hot liquids will cause serious burns.
• Keep the floor of the kitchen from becoming a tripping hazard by keeping toys, pocketbooks, and bags off of the floor.
• Don’t leave knives within the reach of children.
• Make sure that all electric cords are not left dangling off the counter within easy reach of children.
• Keep matches and lighters stored safely away from children locked in a high cabinet.
• Make sure your smoke alarms and detectors working properly.

Also please remember, most cooking fires in the home involve the stovetop and the leading cause of these fires is due to unattended cooking.

Please have a healthy and fire safe Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving: Gratitude is Attitude

Thanksgiving with friends and family

Thanksgiving with friends and family

My first Thanksgiving in the US was celebrated with my Cuban American friend and accountant Joe Delgado and his delightful extended family. The year was 1980 and the place was Atlanta Georgia. I had recently opened my company there in bustling downtown’s Peachtree Center and in awe of the opportunities and atmosphere of this rapidly expanding Southern City, I worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week. Joe was a delightfully charming guy who could make me laugh at the drop of a hat and make me realize the need for balance and gratitude.

My first introduction to this favorite American Holiday was magic. I knew I was invited because I was his employer and I was new to the city, but most of all because he and I had an instant report. He made Thanksgiving hands down my favorite holiday.

No frantic gift-giving like the commercialized version of Christmas, no excessive alcohol consumption and forced gaiety like New Year’s Eve. As a matter of fact, Thanksgiving is so easy going, it doesn’t even require that folks exchange cards, which by the way can set you back $7 to $10 easily these days.
Thanksgiving celebrates the basics: food, family, and friends and the deep fun that accompanies taking the time to enjoy life’s simple but most gratifying pleasures. And the icing on the cake, Thanksgiving encourages us‚ in its characteristically quiet and understated way‚  to take note of the things in our lives that are positive. And that dear readers we do need in these trying times. We need beacons in the dark that guide us back to the things that really matter to each and everyone of us on this earth: simple pleasures shared with family and friends.

Gratitude is absolute power

It’s easy for many of us to fall into the trap of feeling that life is a never-ending struggle, where letting your guard down for a moment can mean ruin and every day is another day that the ever-growing Must Do list fails to get done. Yep, I make my daily lists and it never fails…at the end of the day, often a 14 hour day, only less than half of the tasks on the list have been properly addressed.
And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are a very fortunate person indeed, but I have a feeling you may know a little about the outlook I’m describing.

How do we get ourselves out of this particular no win trap?

Well my half French heritage may give you an answer to that dilemma. French people, especially in the countryside, live life in the balance. It’s a centuries’ old tradition that food is the main staple of relaxation. Daily gratitude for a splendidly cooked meal, shared with your loved ones is the answer to sleeping better, feeling better, and motivating yourself to take better care of your health. Regular thanksgiving sessions work magic.

Thanksgiving once a month -once a week -once a day

In the US we celebrate Thanksgiving once a year and, as I’m writing this story, I can witness the production that’s going on in my kitchen. I keep my office door open this morning to react to frantic calls for assistance but TJ and Thom seem to have it all under control.

So what if we had a Thanksgiving Day once a month?
What if we defined Thanksgiving Day to mean spending a whole day with the people you really want to be with just living: eating, talking, playing, resting, and being militantly free from worries (and ambition) of any kind.
One day per month. Is there anyone so busy that they can’t arrange at least one day per month for Thanksgiving? I wrote arrange not find the time for I have been trying to find the time forever and it never works. In contrast, arranging life to make the time for things has a nearly 100% success rate.

I agree that this sounds like building your day into a routine and some people may think that is boring. Well it really isn’t. What it is….is empowering yourself.
My ancestors in France used to have Thanksgiving every night at supper. With modern times that is almost not possible anymore, but the tradition holds strong to have Thanksgiving once a week. They consistently carve out one day each week where the busyness of life is excluded from he agenda and they sit back to enjoy a good meal and revel in the pleasure of spending time with people they love the most. That’s what weekends or at least Sundays used to be for. Remember?

As the first cooking smells are coming out of my kitchen, I can feel my heritage blooming and re-acquaint myself with the importance of good home cooked meals.
Thanksgiving once a day was the norm when I grew up. My affinity to this greatest of American Holidays is not a secret, as it reminds me of growing up in a family home, where the kitchen was the largest room in the house and the kitchen table could easily handle up to 12 people. We were 7 -mom and dad and 5 sons- and with family friends almost sitting in nightly, the food was splendid and the conversations lively. Instruments came out, some played cards or Pétanque and these evenings made me realize that Gratitude is an Attitude.  A good meal, good company, peace and quiet, and attention not on the things that aren’t working, that need to be improved, that are still undone, but dedicated to enjoying and appreciating the many things good in our lives.

I’m going to take my birds to Lawrence now who’s frying turkeys in his driveway for friends and family and tell him and Judie that I’m proud and happy to be their partner in this venture called SearchAmelia.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my friends past, present and future. I truly appreciate you.

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Happy Thanksgiving from our SearchAmelia Family

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

May your stuffing be tasty,
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.

May your yams be delicious,
And your pies take the prize
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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Interesting Stories for the Holiday Season

This is how Santa gets the job done

This is how Santa gets the job done

It is well documented throughout the ages that history is written by the victorious and consequently we often get a very one sided account of what truly happened in many instances. Written history is black or white and does not leave too much space for intelligent discussion of how close the “final” vote or count was. Take for example the issue of the First Thanksgiving Celebration in the Americas. Was it Menendez, who shared a Mass and a Meal of bean soup with the Timucuan Indians on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine Florida? Or was the place Jamestown Virgina or was it really the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock?

Without a proper definition of what Thanksgiving really entails, these “claims” are the property of the victors who write the history books. Today we know and reluctantly accept that Columbus was a latecomer, preceded not only by other explorers from other cultures, but by Stone Age immigrants who had populated the New World thousands of years before. And what about the Vikings? And the Chinese?

What does Thanksgiving mean?

Before the establishment of formal religions many ancient farmers believed that their crops contained spirits which caused the crops to grow and die. Many believed that these spirits would be released when the crops were harvested and they had to be destroyed or they would take revenge on the farmers who harvested them. Some of the harvest festivals celebrated the defeat of these spirits.

Harvest festivals were thanksgiving celebrations common among all ancient people and even more pronounced by the Greeks, the Romans, the Hebrews, the Chinese and the Egyptians.

The Greeks
The ancient Greeks worshipped many gods and goddesses. Their goddess of grains was Demeter who was honored at the festival of Thesmosphoria held each autumn. On the first day of the festival married women (possibility connecting childbearing and the raising of crops) would build leafy shelters and furnish them with couches made with plants. On the second day they fasted. On the third day a feast was held and offerings to the goddess Demeter were made – gifts of seed corn, cakes, fruit and pigs. It was hoped that Demeter’s gratitude would grant them a continued good harvest.

The Romans
The Romans also celebrated a harvest festival called Cerelia, which honored Ceres their goddess of grains (from which the word cereal comes). The festival was held each year on October 4th and offerings of the first fruits of the harvest and pigs were offered to Ceres. Their celebration included music, parades, games and sports and a thanksgiving feast.

The Chinese
The ancient Chinese celebrated their harvest festival, Chung Ch’ui, with the full moon that fell on the 15th day of the Chinese calendar 8th month. This day was considered the birthday of the moon and special “moon cakes”, round and yellow like the moon, would be baked. Each cake was stamped with the picture of a rabbit – as it was a rabbit, not a man, which the Chinese saw on the face of the moon.

The families ate a thanksgiving meal and feasted on roasted pig, harvested fruits and the “moon cakes”. It was believed that during the 3 day festival flowers would fall from the moon and those who saw them would be rewarded with good fortune.

The Hebrews
Jewish families also celebrate a harvest festival called Sukkoth. Taking place each autumn, Sukkoth has been celebrated for over 3000 years. Sukkoth is know by 2 names – Hag ha Succot – the Feast of the Tabernacles and Hag ha Asif – the Feast of Ingathering. Sukkoth begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, 5 days after Yom Kippur the most solemn day of the Jewish year.

Sukkoth is named for the huts (succots) that Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land. These huts were made of branches and were easy to assemble, take apart, and carry as the Israelites wandered through the desert. When celebrating Sukkoth, which lasts for 8 days, the Jewish people build small huts of branches which recall the tabernacles of their ancestors. These huts are constructed as temporary shelters, as the branches are not driven into the ground and the roof is covered with foliage which is spaced to let the light in. Inside the huts are hung fruits and vegetables, including apples, grapes, corn, and pomegranates. On the first 2 nights of Sukkoth the families eat their meals in the huts under the evening sky.

The Egyptians
The ancient Egyptians celebrated their harvest festival in honor of Min, their god of vegetation and fertility. The festival was held in the springtime, the Egyptian’s harvest season. The festival of Min featured a parade in which the Pharaoh took part. After the parade a great feast was held. Music, dancing, and sports were also part of the celebration.

When the Egyptian farmers harvested their corn, they wept and pretended to be grief-stricken. This was to deceive the spirit which they believed lived in the corn. They feared the spirit would become angry when the farmers cut down the corn where it lived.

The United States
As the recorded (and possibly misguided) history goes: In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim’s fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter.

The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.

The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770’s) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress and implemented by George Washington.

In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Until 1941 each president issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday. In 1941 the National Holiday was finally ratified by Congress.

So regardless of the controversy surrounding the First Thanksgiving on the American Continent, this traditional feast is now held on the last Thursday in November with traditional dishes of turkey, ham, corn and lima beans, mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes and lots of pies like pecan, mince meat and pumpkin.
Thanksgiving starts of the Holiday Season that traditionally lasts through January 6th or Three Kings Day or the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the real day for gift giving.

Stories like these and many other facts, fairy tales, Christmas songs, decoration tips, recipes, gift ideas and family games you can find in our “Celebrate the Holidays in Frugal Flair”. You can buy and download this eBook right here and the proceeds will go the Muscular Dystrophy (Jerry’s Kids) and this year’s local LOCK UP program.


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Thanksgiving at the Country Club

Turkey Ice Sculpture

Turkey Ice Sculpture

Thanksgiving Day on Amelia Island has always been one of my favorite days of the year. For many years we have spent the day frying turkeys with friends and family, catching some football on TV, and enjoying some quality bonding time with all involved. While making preparations for this year my good friend and turkey frying buddy told me that this year he had to spend thanksgiving at one of the family member’s country club instead of here at our house doing our holiday thing.

At first I was taken back, realizing that my special day had been changed, but then I realized that I was horrified for my friend. Now don’t get me wrong- if you grew up spending holidays at the country club instead of home then this would not be a problem for you. Most people, however did not grow up this way and don‚Äôt know how to handle this situation.

Thanksgiving has traditionally been a holiday where families and extended families get together and spend the day enjoying each other’s company. If you watch any that has a scene taking place on Thanksgiving, you will see a football game being played in the back yard, and turkeys being tended to inside the house. Nowhere do you see a Country Club come into play. Even in the classic movie A Christmas Story the family ends up in a Chinese restaurant after dinner is spoiled, not a country club.

The thought of spending this special day amongst lots of people I don‚Äôt know – just unnerves me. Having to dress up and go out is against my Turkey Day being. Here on Amelia Island we can usually look forward to decent weather. I can usually wear shorts and a T-shirt while enjoying myself with a cold beer or cocktail. All of the TV’s in the house will be on the football games, after – of course the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; and lots of interaction between friends and family will take place.

I hope my buddy and his wife can tear themselves away from their festivities in time to grab a hunk of fried turkey and have a cold one with me before we have to go to bed in anticipation of the early morning shopping frenzy known as Black Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all- no matter how you plan to spend it!!!

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Make it a Meaningful Thanksgiving this Year

Thanksgiving is not for Turkeys

Thanksgiving is not for Turkeys

It is here, another Thanksgiving day.¬† That popular American holiday when we eat too much and gather with family members, many of whom we only see once a year.¬† This year will be a little different perhaps then years gone by.¬† The recession may have left some jobless or even worse they may have lost their homes.¬† There should be certain things that we need to avoid discussing¬†this year as we gather.¬† Be careful and do a little checking to see if there are any family members who may be in the middle of tough times.¬† You don’t want to hurt any feelings if you can avoid it.

I know there will be those who just can’t help it, they are going to discuss the economy and the present condition of our country.¬† My advice is to do more listening and less talking and you should be just fine.¬† You see, there are some subjects you just can’t win and politics is one that is at the top of the list.¬† It’s a no win, stay away, don’t go into the light,¬†run the other way, run Forest run!

My advice is to simply enjoy family and friends, talk about the things you have to be thankful for.¬† Enjoy your elderly family members, they may not be with you next year.¬† Admire the new little ones that have joined your family since last year, and know that the family will continue, even after you’re gone.

To discuss politics though is simply a no, no.¬† If you must talk about a turkey please make sure it is the turkey on the table and not any of the¬†turkey’s that are¬†in Washington.¬† Was it not¬†Ben Franklin¬†who wanted the turkey as our national bird?¬† I wonder what he would think today if he were to come back and see just how many turkeys we ended up with on Capitol Hill?

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Grandma had a Lemon Turkey Recipe to Die For

Turkey Dinner

Turkey Dinner

While my husband makes several perfect fried turkeys for our neighbors and friends in his Annual Fried Turkey Marathon, so far this year he has pledged to fry eight birds; I will bake the traditional turkey (yes, I stuff the bird before I bake it) in the oven using the Reynold’s turkey sized cooking bags. My home smells like the holidays and the neighborhood felines go crazy for the smell! I have been cooking Thanksgiving for many years and these cooking bags work to perfection year in and year out. I have passed along this fail-safe tip to my two older children who are grown and my daughter has yet to trash a turkey. This year I’d like to share the recipe with you.

Traditional Holiday Turkey

1 Reynolds Oven Bag, Turkey Size
1 tablespoon flour
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
12 to 24 pound turkey, thawed
Vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Shake flour in Reynolds Oven Bag; place in roasting pan at least 2 inches deep.
Spray inside of bag with nonstick spray to reduce sticking, if desired.
Add vegetables to oven bag.
Remove neck and giblets from turkey.
Rinse turkey; pat dry.
Lightly stuff the cavity of the bird with your favorite dressing recipe, if desired.
Brush turkey with oil.
Place turkey in bag on top of vegetables.

Close oven bag with nylon tie; cut six 1/2 inch slits in top.
Tuck ends of bag in pan.

Bake until meat thermometer reads 180 degrees F, 2 to 2 1/2 hours for a 12 to 16 lb. turkey, 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a 16 to 20 lb. turkey, and 3 to 3 1/2 hours for a 20 to 24 lb. turkey. Add 1/2 hour for stuffed turkey.
Insert meat thermometer through bag into thickest part of inner thigh, not touching bone.
For easy slicing, let stand in oven bag 15 minutes.
If turkey sticks to bag, gently loosen bag from turkey before opening oven bag.

REYNOLDS KITCHEN TIP: Estimate 1 pound per person for generous servings with leftovers.

This year, my 89 year old grandmother sent me a new recipe that looks so good, I may have to break my own tradition and give it a try.

1 whole turkey
1 large lemon, cut into halves
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter or olive oil, whichever you prefer

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Rub butter or oil over the skin of the turkey until it is completely coated.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and any other seasonings you prefer.
Take a knife and gently separate the skin from the breast meat;
Slide lemon halves under the skin with the peel side up, one on each side.
This way the juice from the lemon will release into the breasts.
Cover and bake for 30-45 minutes.
Remove cover and continue to roast until juices run clear, basting every 15-20 minutes.

If you’ve followed these steps correctly, your turkey should look like the one in the picture.

Grandma's Lemon Turkey Recipe

Grandma's Lemon Turkey Recipe

Nutrition per 3 oz. cooked serving:
Number of Servings: 15-30
Nutritional Information:
(Per Serving)
calories 137
grams fat 3
% calories from fat 21
milligrams cholesterol 83
milligrams sodium 59
grams carbohydrates 1
grams fiber 0
grams protein 25

The turkey has been a staple in the North American diet since it was introduced to the Pilgrims by the Indians in 1620. On October 3, 1863, Thanksgiving became an official holiday in the United States as proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln. In the early 1940’s President Roosevelt tried to change the date to earlier in November, but the idea was shot down by Congress and Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday in November.

If anyone knows where the traditional competition to successfully break and retain the long end of the wishbone comes from‚ thus granting the winner to make a wish, please let us know!

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Wisdom to Get Through Thanksgiving

Getting through the Holidays

Getting through the Holidays

My 89 year old grandmother is at it again forwarding the family some words of wisdom. Realizing how stressful and difficult Thanksgiving entertaining can be, she sent us some tips to help deal with the variety of personalities. (By the way, she is doing great having made the change from Web TV to a desktop computer.)

Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

A sharp tongue can cut your own throat.

If you want your dreams to come true, you mustn’t oversleep.

Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.

The best vitamin for making friends….. B1.

The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.

The heaviest thing you can carry is a grudge.

One thing you can give and still keep…is your word.

You lie the loudest when you lie to yourself.

If you lack the courage to start, you have already finished.

One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time.

Ideas won’t work unless ‘ You’ do.

Your mind is like a parachute…it functions only when open.

The 10 commandments are not a multiple choice.

The pursuit of happiness is the chase of a lifetime! It is never too late to become what you might have been.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about the one’s who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.

Friends are like balloons; once you let them go, you might not get them back. Sometimes we get so busy with our own lives and problems that we may not even notice that we’ve let them fly away. Sometimes we are so caught up in who’s right and who’s wrong that we forget what’s right and wrong. Sometimes we just don’t realize what real friendship means until it is too late.

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Free Range and Drug Free Turkeys at Nassau Health Foods

Free Range Turkey

Free Range Turkey

Well it is time to purchase the turkey for your Thanksgiving feast and Nassau Health Foods on Amelia Island has a few free range and drug free turkeys left in stock. They get their turkeys from Mary’s Free Range Turkeys, a company that has been raising these holiday favorites since 1954.

They let the turkeys grow naturally, with plenty of open space and they add no antibiotics, animal by-products, hormones, preservatives or additives. Raised on a diet of healthful grains that are full of protein, they deliver a more flavorful bird than you will find in the big box grocery store.

Mary's Turkey Available at Nassau Health Foods

Mary's Turkey Available at Nassau Health Foods

Nassau Health Foods has the most complete selection of natural foods, supplements, and fresh organic produce in the area. With over 4,000 feet of retail space, they stock plenty, but when it comes to turkeys you won’t find them traditionally placed in a prominent display. No, in this store, you have to hunt for the turkeys scattered throughout their freezer displays. Don’t worry you won’t have to hunt for long, their knowledgeable staff is happy to help you find the perfect turkey for your feast. They only have a limited supply in stock so stop by or give them a call at (904) 277-3158 and get your bird secured before they are gone!

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