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An American Holiday
THE ORIGINS OF THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS
Football Though baseball has long been considered the national pastime, Thanksgiving falls during the offseason. This is probably why football became the traditional Thanksgiving Day sport. The University of Michigan kicked off the tradition of Thanksgiving football in 1886, though the NFL wouldn’t join in until 1934. The Detroit Lions played in the first professional “Turkey Bowl” in 1934 against the Bears, and the Dallas Cowboys got in on the act in 1966. Detroit and Dallas (Go Cowboys!) still host most of the Thanksgiving games to this day. Turkey Day at Advanced Nerve and Laser Center Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate everything we are grateful for, and I’m grateful for the fact this country has given me and my family so much. To show my thanks, I try to give back by picking one day in November to gift a free turkey to every patient who comes in for treatment. Turkey Day starts bright and early, when I pull up to the loading dock at the grocery store with my fleet of SUVs. There’s always a pallet of frozen turkeys waiting for us. We end up with around 20 coolers, packed full of turkeys, stacked all around the office. Last year we gave away over 120 turkeys to patients. It was a busy day, but we had such a great time. A lot of those turkeys ended up on patients’ own dinner tables, but I know many people gave them to friends who couldn’t afford a turkey themselves. At the end of the day, we donated the leftover birds to a soup kitchen. This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions. I get to do something nice for my patients, who have supported me for so many years, and help other people in our community who might be having a hard time. It feels good to give back in some small way to this country I love.
My mother’s family came to the United States from Vietnam, and I was the first member of my family to be born in America. As a child, I didn’t fully understand how blessed we were to be here, but I knew how much I already loved the country I called home. This is a big reason Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. As the writer O. Henry once said, “There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.” Our family Thanksgiving feasts have always been traditionally American. Everyone brings a dish, and no less than 30 sides find their way to the table. One year, my parents tried to include a Vietnamese dish, and the cousins nearly staged a revolt. I have always loved Thanksgiving traditions, and this month, I want to share the origins behind a few of them. Turkey This tasty tradition dates back to one of the earliest Thanksgivings in 1621. When Plymouth County Governor William Bradford wrote about that famous first meal between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag natives in his journal, he mentioned, “Besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc.” Thanksgiving wouldn’t become an official holiday for another 200 years, but as the colonists moved throughout the continent, they brought the tradition of turkeys with them. The relationship between turkey and Thanksgiving became so well-known that during the American Revolution, Alexander Hamilton said, “No citizen of the U.S. shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.”
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope your Thanksgiving celebrations are full of family, fun, and great traditions of your own.
–Dr. Bao Tha i
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