Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

The year there were TWO Thanksgivings

Here’s a Thanksgiving episode of the Jack Benny Show from 1939. The running gag is that there were two Thanksgivings that year…and there really was!

A Newsweek Magazine 1939 cartoon that depicted which states were celebrating which Thanksgiving date. Note that the Pilgrim looks like FDR! (Wikimedia)

Thanksgiving had not yet been set as a fixed holiday, as it was set each year by Presidential Proclamation. Presidents had traditionally set Thanksgiving for the last Thursday in November as President Lincoln had first done.

But in 1939, President Roosevelt acquiesed to the request of retailers who wanted to have an additional week of Christmas gift sales. At that time, shoppers tended not to shop for Christmas presents until after Thanksgiving.

In 1939, Thanksgiving was to fall on November 30, which was so late in the month, he moved it up to the 23rd.

However, calendars had already printed Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November. School breaks and Thanksgiving Day football games had to be rescheduled. It was quite the mess! Some states adhered to one Thanksgiving date, other states the other. Some people were so irritated, they called it “Franksgiving” (after Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Twenty-three states and the District honored the 23rd date. Twenty-two states stuck with the 30th date, including Virginia. And three states celebrated on BOTH dates!

I think we can assume the Macy’s Day Parade that year took place on the 23rd, as President Roosevelt was from New York. Here’s a clip of the Parade in 1939. Can you spot Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?

Congress ultimately passed a law in December 1941 so that Thanksgiving would always fall on the fourth Thursday of the year.

Jack Benny was a funny man but he also gave most of the best lines to his colleagues, including Mary Livingstone, whose real name was Sadie Marks (she later had it changed legally to Mary Livingstone). In the program, Mary was a friend of Jack’s, but in real life, they were actually married. She became popular on the radio program after appearing as a stand-in for a last-minute cancellation. She received so much fan mail, NBC kept her on as a regular. She is a standout in this episode.

Thanksgiving for one: making a solitary holiday special

Have you ever spent Thanksgiving by yourself? You’re not alone! Maybe you are one of the people who…

  • Are single and live alone; a growing population in nearly every age range.
  • Share custody of their kids and it’s not their turn to spend Thanksgiving with them this year.
  • Can’t afford to travel to see distant relatives.
  • Don’t have any family members left or are estranged from their family.
  • Work on Thanksgiving Day or on Black Friday.
  • Experience depression, anxiety or other challenges that cause them to isolate.
  • Enjoy having the day to themselves.

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Ways to express gratitude at Thanksgiving

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson

I recall two times when I was so grateful for people went out of their way to make sure I had a nice Thanksgiving when I was going through a tough time.

The first time was when my baby was in intensive care. My husband and I stayed with him all day. His prognosis was still uncertain. That day, the baby in the room next to his died after a terrible illness. We saw the young parents cradle their baby in their arms to say goodbye. My husband and I were so sad and we hadn’t eaten. When we returned home that evening, we found that our neighbors had left generous portions of their home-made Thanksgiving dinners, all wrapped up on our doorstep.

Another time, I was in bed with the flu at Thanksgiving. One of my young coworkers from Hallmark dropped by with her sister to check on me. She brought a plate of food from their family Thanksgiving dinner and I was so touched by her thoughtfulness.

If you know someone who is having difficulties, you’d be surprised how little it takes to brighten their day, and it will make you that more grateful for your blessings.

FTD “Shades of Autumn” arrangement, starting at $35.

Here are some ideas for getting in touch with gratitude and the impact of kindness and abundance in your life.

  • Compose a list of people and things you are thankful for.
  • Write a thank you letter.
  • Send Thanksgiving cards to loved ones. Dollar Tree has nice ones, two for a dollar.
  • Complete a guided meditation on gratitude.
  • Bring or send flowers to thank someone.
  • Attend a Thanksgiving Day worship service.
  • Say a prayer of thanks before your Thanksgiving meal.
  • Pass around a “Gratitude Jar” and share your thoughts.
  • Take a walk and reflect on your blessings.
  • Make something creative: a collage, some photographs, a drawing or poem.
  • Attend a 12-step meeting.
  • Volunteer or make a charitable contribution.
  • Reach out to someone who is going through a hard time. Even a phone call can help.

Have you found creative or meaningful ways to experience and express gratitude? What do you teach your children, if you have them?

Thanksgiving Craft: Thankful Tree

Hallmark came up with this easy but amazing craft for friends and family on Thanksgiving Day. You know what I think this would be great for, though? For school. I think this would be a terrific class project for kids.

Here are the instructions to download.


Three Thanksgiving Ideas (that don’t involve cooking)

Not all of us are blessed with large families, but we still want to celebrate Thanksgiving.  How to celebrate Thanksgiving for one or two?  If you don’t really want to cook a huge feast?  Here are some of my favorite past Thanksgiving activities and some new ideas to try…

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving at Graves Mountain Lodge

Book now for overnight accommodations and Thanskgiving at Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, Virginia.  Or just drive in for lunch or dinner.  The food is served family style, and is old-fashioned in flavor: ham, turkey, home-made rolls, sweet potatoes, fried oysters.  Lunch or dinner is $40 for adults and $20 for kids.  Be sure to purchase some of their apple butter and green pepper jelly for holiday gifting.  During the day, there is the farm to explore.  At night, there is usually a frosty hay ride into the mountains.  Luray Caverns is nearby, for a Friday side-trip.

A Historical Thanksgiving in Williamsburg

Hotel rates are generally quite low ($35-$50/night is not uncommon) and you can find bargains for this weekend. Explore Historic Jamestown and be transported back to a village of Native Americans and a 17th century English settlement.  You’ll really get a feeling of what the times were like around the time of the earliest Thanksgiving observations.  Colonial Williamsburg is also worth a visit, especially on Friday for shopping, and you don’t have to pay the admission fee to enjoy much of it.  We’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the Fireside Chophouse in Williamsburg. The prix fixe dinner included a creamy soup, a plate of Thanksgiving favorites, and coffee and pie.  I thought it was just fine. We poked around the Christmas Mouse afterwards (open Thanksgiving night) and looked at the hundreds of Christmas ornaments for sale there.  A post-Thanksgiving visit to Christmastown Busch Gardens is a must (opens at 3 pm on Friday) and a bus from the historic area takes you right there, so you don’t even have to drive.

A Cultural Thanksgiving in Richmond

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is open 365 days a year, including Thanksgiving.  You can enjoy a rather sophisticated meal in their upscale restaurant, Amuse, for $52/person — 3 courses includes offers like an appetizer of roasted oysters, an entree of game hen, and molasses cake with pumpkin ice cream.  Or head to the Patrick Henry Pub & Grill for deep-fried turkey on their buffet.  I haven’t tried either of these restaurants, actually, but the menus sound delicious to me. Afterwards, check out VMFA’s exhibit on Hollywood costumes and fashion, “Made in Hollywood,” and explore their fabulous gift shop for unique and artsy holiday gifts.  At night, catch a movie at the Byrd Theatre. Shopping at the Carytown boutiques would be a perfect way to spend Small Business Saturday.

Any ideas?

If you don’t cook on Thanksgiving or get together with family, how do you celebrate?  Share your tips and ideas!