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November 25, 2008

Saying Thanks Just Doesn't Cut(lery) It

Although there may be a Christmas tree on every street light post we pass on our way to work, the holiday for being thankful has not been lost in the twinkle and glitter of the holiday of thank you notes. 

It is popularly believed that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621. Nearly two centuries later, Lincoln donned his top hat and named the last Thursday in November, Thanksgiving. However, it wasn’t until 1941 that Congress declared this day a national holiday. 

As you can see, I’ve done my research. Rather than follow the typical Thanksgiving code of posting a list of people to whom we are grateful, my research has shown there are other things to which we should show our gratitude. Namely: forks. 

I doubt I need to clarify that life in 1621 was different from life in 2008. We now eat surrounded by the comfort of central air and heat. We listen to the football game rather than get an update from our mothers on the difficulties of dislodging a potato from tough soil. What you may not know is that in 1621, people did not have forks. They had knives, spoons, cloth napkins and fingers, but no forks. 

So how did they cut their mealy game bird and venison? The simple answer is that they didn’t, not really. Hot food was picked up with napkins, food was piled onto knives and finger food had a broader definition. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the sentence, “Could you please pass the gravy,” had not been conceived. People could only eat the foods that were in reach, and depending on your standing in society, your fingers may never been given the chance of reaching out to touch burning, bubbling deer fat. Delicious.

When you gather around the table this Thanksgiving, giving thanks to a utensil may not be the best method of getting on your crotchety aunt’s good side. But secretly, as you relish the cranberry relish, you will know this meal was all made possible by forks. 

For more information on the history of Thanksgiving, check out the History Channel’s website.

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