Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving
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Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving

One of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, has a lot to be thankful for and to also think about. Happy Thanksgiving everyone

By Ray Hanania

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, next to election day of course.

I don’t like to think about what we did to the Native Americans, though. I’ve read too many stories about that injustice. We could have treated them better, although maybe both sides could have treated everyone better.

But Thanksgiving has so many memories as a holiday, it rises above all of the rest. It’s the one holiday I don’t feel obligated to spend money, other than to buy food; like we do for Christmas (toys, clothing and perfume), Valentine’s Day (flowers, cards and candy), or Easter (Easter Baskets, candy and egg coloring).

Stuffed Grape Leaves. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Stuffed Grape Leaves. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Thanksgiving always takes place on a Thursday. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who married his first cousin Eleanor, changed Thanksgiving from the 4th to the 3rd Thursday of November. FDR made the change hoping it would give more time for consumers to spend money on Christmas.

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Yes, Thanksgiving is the weekend in which most Christians begin the Christmas season, which has become more of a supplication by robber barons for excessive and mindless consumer spending.

Christmas Lights and Trees are supposed to go up during Thanksgiving weekend. But to cash in on the holiday, businesses have been pushing us to start sooner even before Thanksgiving, which I think is too early.

Chicago got it’s Christmas Tree from a suburban family in Elgin, and officially unveiled in the week before Thanksgiving (last Friday Nov. 22).

That’s too early people!

Thanksgiving is the one holiday in which we can sit around a great meal with family, friends and even those in need – some families invite the homeless to join them for their Thanksgiving meal, and that’s a good thing.

There is no pressure for me to spend money to make someone happy. Isn’t just being with family and friends enough? Sadly, no. But getting together as “family” is something we all need to spend more time doing. We need to take a break from the Internet and Technology which have separated families into mindless “pods” socializing through “Smart Phones,” traveling online from Facebook to Instagram sharing photos and anger.

Who knew people were so angry with the world?

The Thanksgiving dinner table used to be sacred in my parent’s home. Of course, when I was young the only technology we had was the Zenith Black and White TV (praying for color TV), the stereo console – remember that big thing that stored albums and played music? Every home had ashtrays, cigarette lighters and even a few had pipes. Homes would be filled with smoke. If James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and James Bond would smoke, shouldn’t we all?

We had telephones, but we didn’t use them for socializing until later. They were there more for scheduling and checking on other family arriving from the “Old Country.” And for all of you out there who are the children of immigrants, the “Old Country” could be anywhere because that’s where we all came from, except, of course, for the Native Americans, who are the real “Americans.”

I remember the big dinners my mom would prepare for our family and oftentimes for visiting relatives. There would be a a huge Turkey. Mom’s stuffing was made from rice and diced lamb. She made grape leaves on the side and “Jerusalem Salad” made with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and a sesame seed paste that is today popular but strange to most Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, called Tahini. We would also have hummus, olives and even stuffed zucchini and stuffed cabbage leaves.

Grape leaves, stuffed zucchini and cabbage leaves … That was a meal!

The Thanksgiving meal isn’t the same today. The need to diet has forced us to trim our intake of calories and carbs. I calorie count, hopelessly. But the menu include healthier foods, rather than the White Bread spread with butter and covered in sugar – I don’t know what they called it but it often was my lunch when I walked a mile to come home from school and watched Bozo’s circus on TV.

Today, we’re worried more about spending than on family.

I love Thanksgiving. It brings back a lot of great memories. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and take a moment to remember how wonderful it really was when we were all a lot younger.

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

Click here to listen to Ray's Political Podcast. 

Hanania's columns are archived on his personal website at RayHanania.com. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.
Ray Hanania

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