Funny, no? Last week you learned all about whether it’s kosher for Jews to celebrate Thanksgiving. So, are you planning your menu? Don’t look at me for help… (insert blank stare emoji) Which leads me to the question some of you asked, do I celebrate Thanksgiving? While my debate might not be as nuanced as the one among halachic authorities, I do have my own meshugaz, when it comes to Thanksgiving. Here’s where I’m holding on the Thanksgiving or no-Thanksgiving celebration debate.
My Thanksgving Experience
I grew up in Puerto Rico. Growing up I felt like celebrating Thanksgiving meant one of the following about your family:
- the family is Americanized (sometimes frowned upon depending on your circle);
- the family is not really Americanized, but they love any excuse to eat – and most likely, the menu did not look anything like the “traditional Thanksgiving menu”
- the family is not Americanized and Thanksgiving meant taking the long weekend to sail out to the nearby islands or something super fun like that. Turkey and pumping pie were probably not brought along.
Guess which camp my family was in?
Now, I’m married to an American and we’ve lived in the United States for the past 8 years, which … Duh… you would think I’m roasting kosher turkey at this point, right?
Not quite. Twelve years of marriage and I’ve yet to make Thanksgiving. Rebellious streak?
My Thanksgiving Conundrum
Maybe there’s a little bit of a rebellious streak and/or there’s my Puerto Rican upbringing. But, really, I think it’s more like this:
You know that thing that happens every week… Shabbat? (I call it my Thanksgiving cop-out.)
I refuse to spend my Thursday cooking for a Holiday, when I have to cook for another one arriving in yet another 24 hours.
I make a feast just as big as Thanksgiving EVERY.SINGLE.WEEK.
That’s probably the reason why my husband’s family still tolerates my lack of excitement over the Thanksgiving Holiday… I’ve traded Thanksgiving for the Shabbat feast, sans the turkey and stuffing…
I Do Like Thanksgiving!
I know, you don’t even believe me by now. Yikes. Seriously, I do…
Gratitude is a beautiful thing and a core value in Judaism. So, while I may want to re-think my attitude towards the Thanksgiving feast, I really don’t want to spend an extra day in the kitchen!
I’m no history buff, but the history behind Thanksgiving, and thus the essence of the Holiday, is worth mentioning.
In his proclamation recommending a day of Thanksgiving, on November 26, 1789, President George Washington wrote:
“…to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country…”
Later in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national holiday for the last Thursday of each November as a “day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.”
A day of gratitude to our Creator!? Isn’t that what every Jewish day is like!? Read more about this in my Thanksgiving post from a few years ago here.
There is no doubt in my mind that this great country’s historically unprecedented success and prosperity are related to the fact that its Founding Fathers recognized the existence of a Supreme Being who provides and cares for every creature. And the fact that there’s a national day that honors that which we inherently believe as Jews, is a magnificent thing and certainly reason to celebrate.
Nu? Will I be cooking?
No. Not yet, I still love Friday night guests and Shabbat day guests a lot more than Thanksgiving. Plus, I value my sanity and as you’ve heard before in this Jewish Latin Princess podcast episode, I don’t find the kitchen relaxing. So, I won’t be experimenting with the Thanksgiving feast just yet.
Thank G-d I do have “Thanksgiving” meal twice every week: Friday night and Shabbat lunch. I seriously think it’s a special celebration and if you have a tradition of doing it, kol hakavod!
And if you want to invite me … I’ll be MORE than glad to come.
Happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!
What do you usually do on Thanksgiving?