In the silence of the Shepherd University library and other similarly quiet places, pens scribbled in a vigorous effort to complete a survey on Thanksgiving traditions. Not surprisingly, turkey and mashed potatoes were the front-runners in the meat and veggie categories.
“I’m the middle child of 10 kids. In my family, for Thanksgiving, I like throwing the football around with my brothers,” said junior Merick Humbert, an English literature major. “We eat good food, like garlic mashed potatoes, and watch football.”
The number of respondents that drank water to whet their feasting chops outnumbered all other beverage inputs by a resounding vote. It won over alcoholic beverages and juice.
Pumpkin pie packed the same punch in the fight to top its category. The orange gourd won by getting 11 nods.
“I’m from England, and we have turkey, any kind of potato, green beans and peas. We eat apple pie, and I like spending time with my family,” said junior Christian Thomas, who is majoring in recreation and leisure.
All students indicated that family and food were the big focus for the day. Some had other traditions.
“I like Thanksgiving for Black Friday. No kidding! I’m a crazy Black Friday shopper,” said freshman Hannah Brumbaugh, who majors in elementary education. “One time, a blonde chick buddied up with me, and we bum-rushed into the store and headed to the game bin. My boyfriend wanted the new Madden game, and so I dove into the full bin while my wing woman held off the other shoppers. I got the game and then some. The others weren’t happy. I never saw my accomplice again!”
In 1621 the Pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest with a three-day party and got down with eating, hunting and entertaining. No turkey was present. However, their Native American cohorts donated five deer as a gift for the feast.
History.com says Thanksgiving was not an annual celebration until Sara Hale began a 30-year campaign to institute the feast as the holiday we have come to know. Abraham Lincolin announced in 1863 that the food-fest would be implemented during the last week in November, and in 1939 then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to move the date back a week to facilitate more Christmas shopping to bolster the economy. The public was outraged, and his efforts were quashed. FDR made the fourth Thursday in November the official date of celebration.
In 1989, President George W.H. Bush started a new White House tradition of pardoning a turkey. Along with an epic feast, one or two turkeys are pardoned and sent to a farm to live into old age.
Many Thanksgiving traditions are enjoyed by all of the students who filled out the survey. They all enjoy good food and family time. Football and relaxation make a 50 percent showing in things loved.
Other than Black Friday antics, one other student told of her other than usual Thanksgiving routine.
“The people who get together at my mom’s house for Thanksgiving, usually consisting of my mom, my step-dad, my 24-year-old brother, Timmy, and my 17-year-old brother, Benjamin, have had a food competition for the last several years. In other words, rather than my mom and I doing all the cooking, every family member who will be attending Thanksgiving chooses a dish to make for the dinner. This dish can be anything. For example, my younger brother made Oreo truffles one year, which are simultaneously rich and repulsive by the way. My older brother usually takes the route of buying a box of Velveeta shells and cheese and calling it a homemade dish.
“Anything goes, really. After we have eaten so much that a food coma promises to creep into our near futures, we vote for which dish we think is the best. The person with the most votes usually gets some lame prize like a movie from the $5 bin at Wal-Mart, but it’s always so fun. My mom does this for multiple holidays, and it is a way in which our family is able to work together in the kitchen and bond while contributing to a dinner we will all enjoy,” said junior Emily Daniels, an English major. She is the managing editor at the Shepherd Picket and enjoys “sweet tea and apple pie” with her turkey.
In addition to many references of food, family and football being top favorites, one mention of prizes and a singular double celebration are noted.
“My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is it’s my Grandpa’s birthday,” said senior Eileen Waggoner, an English major. ”He’s my favorite person in the world.”