Archive for the 'Thanksgiving' Category

November at the Wineries

winery-door.jpgA welcoming display at a local winery near the red door invites everyone inside to find the perfect wines for the coming Thanksgiving feast.  I found a really nice article about turkey and wine pairings that might help those who are wondering which wine to buy. Assuming that the main course is turkey, I suggest serving sparkling, chardonnay, and pinot noir at your feast since everyone has such different tastes and all three go well with the bird.  Something from Laeticia for the sparkling wine, a Zaca Mesa chardonnay, and a Wild Horse pinot noir?  So many choices. 

The leaves on the vines are starting to change, the Central’s Coast homage to autumn.  Besides getting ready for our own Thanksgiving, I attended a harvest dinner at one of our favorite wineries and enjoyed an amazing five course dinner paired with the winery’s best wines.  The chef was French, the winemaker American, and one of my dinner companions someone who has lived on three continents.  A satisfying evening.


Saving Thanksgivng #7

“We return thanks to the Great Spirit, in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of his children.” (Iroquois Prayer)

9451124.jpgThis Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell is from 1945.  The soldier, home from the war and celebrating Thanksgiving, tugs at my heartstrings.  What is more amazing to me is the headline in the box, “What will Bradley do for the Veterans?”  This refers to Gen. Omar Bradley, chosen by President Truman at the end of World War II to direct the Veterans Administration.  The following excerpt is from Bradley’s biography found at the Arlington National Cemetary website.

“Somewhat unwillingly, Bradley accepted the job and began to modernize and restructure that antiquated organization to meet the challenges that it would soon face. Before the end of the war the VA was responsible for some 5 million veterans, with a few pensions still going to cases arising from the War of 1812. By 1946 almost 17 million veterans were on its rolls. Bradley completely rebuilt the organization on a regional basis and insisted on basing his decisions on he needs of the veteran, rather than on the political considerations that had so often governed in the past in such matters as the location of VA hospitals. With the help of Maj. Gen. Paul R. Hawley, Eisenhower’s theater surgeon, he completely overhauled a medical care system that Hawley had described as medieval. He also revised and extended the educational benefits of the G.I. Bill, arranged for jobs and job training programs for men whose only experience had been as members of the armed forces, established a program of loans for veterans, and administered a staggering growth in veterans insurance and disability pensions. Bradley was unable to accomplish everything he had hoped to do in his two-year tenure, but in the assessment of the press, he transformed “the medical service of the Veterans Administration from a national scandal to a model establishment.”

My father was one of those World War II veterans who was lovingly cared for by the VA.  I have cousins who served in the Korean, Vietnam, and First Gulf wars.  I am thankful for their service to our nation.  So many of our military will not be home this Thanksgiving or will be spending all of their future Thanksgivings as disabled, needing the VA’s services. 

A little known news story last week was the naming of Dr. James B. Peake as President Bush’s latest director of Veterans Affairs.  Just as in 1945, we must ask the question, “What will Peake do for the Veterans?”  Bradley’s transformation of the VA from “a national scandal to a model establishment” seems to have be reversed.  Veterans’ inadequate health care, homelessness, suicide and trauma seem to be daily news stories.  I urge you to follow the confirmation process of Dr. Peake.  It is not without controversy.  We owe it to our veterans.

Saving Thanksgiving #6

 Give us this day our daily bread, O Father in heaven, and grant that we who are filled with good things from Your open hand, may never close our hearts to the hungry, the homeless, and the poor; in the name of the Father, and of the Sone, and of the Holy Spirit. (from the abbey of New Clairvaux)

enstrom-grace.jpg A print of this painting, “Grace” by Eric Enstrom has for many years hung in my parents’ dining room. A bowl of homemade soup and a loaf of homemade bread was usually available in our kitchen.  Both my mother and father loved to cook, but it wasn’t until he retired that my father devoted much time to it.  My grandmother baked bread every Sunday morning and expected everyone to stop by and pick up a loaf.  By baking bread, I mean the lady had over 25 loafs resting on and covered by clean sheets on her bed.  The smell of baked bread will always remind me of Grandma’s house.  I never became much of a baker, but I love to make soup.  We never had soup on Thanksgiving, however.  No need to fill up with liquid when all those carbs were on their way.  I count as a blessing, the wonderful soups and crusty breads I had as a child.  How we will count our blessings this Thanksgiving?  A little tougher this year with so much military, political, and economic strife.  An activity from the United Methodist Church called “Count Your Blessings“, although Christian in nature, can be adapted for any faith path.  It is extremely reflective and might make a great after dinner activity for everyone at your Thanksgiving table.

Saving Thanksgiving #5

 “For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends,for everything Thy goodness sends.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Instead of a painting for today’s post, I’ve included some photographs I found on the American Memory section the Library of Congress website.  If you’ve never spent time browsing this site, do so; it contains digitized primary sources for every interest.  These photographs are from the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.  What a marvelous peek into our past.  I especially like the photo of the pies cooling on the sideboard with the family reflected in the mirror and the family opening their home to the military during World War II.  Just click on each thumbnail to see each photograph.  Today’s post ends with Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation.  During This time of war and unease, it is an especially meaningful message.

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Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation 

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Saving Thanksgiving #4

 “Oh, Life is good to me and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need: the sun and the rain and the apple seed.  Oh, Life is good to me.”

                                                                     (Johnny Appleseed Blessing)


Today’s Thanksgiving painting is “Apple Picking” by Pissarro.  My red door is only a few miles away from some wonderful apple orchards which yearly produce crisp, juicy fruit.  Some of the orchardists do apple and cider tasting and one winery in the area produces a delightful apple chardonnay.

Thanks for the harvest is one of the historical bases of the concept of thanksgiving.  Smithsonian has a short article which explains the idea of thanksgiving and is worth a look. 

Being grateful is closely tied to the concept of thanksgiving.  Trying to articulate either is impossible.  I express myself best through music which is why my first three “Saving Thanksgiving” focused on that subject.  On November 1, some friends of mine have their children decorate a shoe box with turkeys, pilgrims, cornucopias, etc.  They cut a slot in the top and all month family members put in slips of paper stating things and people for which they are thankful.  They read the slips as their Thanksgiving meal’s grace.  Sort of a Thanksgiving advent calendar.  There are many other ways we can demonstrate our gratitude.   A good place to start is  This amazing site is full of readings and ideas for you and your family to explore.  I especially liked the section of readings on gratefulness and have been sharing them with friends. 

Saving Thanksgiving #3

“Beglückt darf nun dich, o Heimat, ich schauen und grüssen froh deine lieblichen Auen; nun lass ich ruhn den Wanderstab, weil Gott getreu ich gepilgart hab!”

“Blest, I may now look on thee, oh my native land, and gladly greet thy pleasant pastures; now I lay my pilgrim’s staff aside to rest because, faithful to God, I have completed my pilgrimage.”  “The Pilgrims’ Chorus” from Wagner’s Tannhauser


 Today is the last of the music playlists for Thanksgiving.  This one is secular, but as with “The Pilgrims’ Chorus” faith seems never too far from thankfulness. I tried to include a selection of different styles of music which should appeal to someone sitting around your table this holiday.  Just don’t sing with your mouthful! Today’s Thanksgiving art is Van Gogh’s Harvest.  A wonderful sense of bounty in the French countryside.


Thanksgiving Playlist

  • “I’ve Got Plenty of Nothing” from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin
  • “Thank You” by Sly and the Family Stone
  • “All Good Gifts” from Godspell by Stephen Schwartz
  • “Amazing Grace” by Aretha Franklin
  • “I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful For” by Bing Crosby
  • “Thank You” by Tori Amos
  • “Be Thankful for What You Got” by Yo La Tengo
  • “Thanksgiving Theme (Peanuts)” by Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • “Stuffy Turkey” by Thelonious Monk
  • “Mayflower Rock” by Dizzy Gillespie
  • “Thank You” by Ray Davies
  • “Thank You” by Led Zeppelin
  • “Cornucopia” by Black Sabbath
  • “Thanksgiving” by Loudon Wainwright III
  • “Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant
  • “Homeward Bound” by Simon and Garfunkel
  • “Turkey in the Straw” by Flatt and Scruggs
  • “Thanksgiving Song” by Adam Sandler
  • “Thank You” by Dido
  • “Thanksgiving”  by George Winston

cjlhlm.jpgWhen it comes to great music, there’s always room for Wagner.  Of course, once I introduced my children to “The Pilgrims’ Chorus,” I felt honor bound to follow it up with a showing of “What’s Opera, Doc?”  I just can’t think of Wagner without thinking of Bugs Bunny in his Brunhilde costume.  Completely destroys the beauty of the moment.” Elmer: Oh, Bwunehiwda, you’re so wuvwee.”Bugs: “Yes I know it, I can’t help it.” Elmer: “Weturn, my wove / A wonging burns deep inside me.” Bugs: “Return, my love / I want you always beside me.”

It’s  akin to when you learned the camp song, “Be kind to your web footed friends, for a duck may be somebody’s brother” before you were old enough to know it was John Phillp Sousa.  Don’t get me started on the Lone Ranger and Rossini or Chopin sonatas and funerals.   Now that I’ve got that out of my system, back to Thanksgiving. 

Saving Thanksgiving #2

O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!
                                                                                      William Shakespeare

gl_chor.jpgToday’s post will focus on Christian choral music and hymns for Thanksgiving.  It’s the tradition I know best and how I will be celebrating.  Most of the list is traditional music; since I feel so strongly about history and ritual.  I remember singing these hymns when I was very small.  I was dressed as a Pilgrim for one of my first vocal solos.  Loved the starched white bonnet.  I’ve included a few more contemporary pieces that I think will become tradional due to their beauty.   I would love for other people to add comments which include Thanksgiving music from their own faith path.  A later post will deal with secular Thanksgiving music.  I’ve included a few links to performance videos or midi files so you can sing-a-long, explore, or just enjoy.  Today’s artwork is “Angel Choir” by Gustav Klimt.  It’s a lovely representation of giving thanks through praise.  I love the expressions of the angels (and yes, they all seem to be women.)  We usually think of choirs of angels only at Christmas.  How sad.  Remember the hymn phrase “Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise?”  I imagine that’s what angel choirs are all about.

Thanksgiving Choral Anthems

“For the Beauty of the Earth”
Composed by John Rutter

“Simple Gifts”
Arranged by Aaron Copland

“The Promise of Living”
Composed by Aaron Copland

“Sing to the Lord of Harvest”
Composed by Healey Willan

“Time for Turning”
Composed by Craig Courtney

“O Praise the Lord of Heaven”
Composed by William Billings

“Pilgrims’ Chorus”
Composed by Richard Wagner

“Chandos Anthem No.4. ‘O sing unto the Lord a new song'”
Composed by George F. Handel

“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
Composed by Hugo Distler

 Thanksgiving Hymns
My favorite Thanksgiving hymns are “We Gather Together,” “Now Thank We All our God,” and “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.” For these and other traditional hymns, check out the Cyberhymnal’s Thanksgiving Page.  Although not usually considered Thanksgiving hymns, I would add these to the list.  You can find them on Cyberhymnal as well. 

“Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”
“Praise My Soul,the King of Heaven”
“Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”
“My Shepherd Will Supply My Need”
“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
“How Can I Keep From Singing?”