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From the Publisher’s Desk – Just waiting for big bird to thaw

By Keith Whitson

“My turkey is still frozen! What do I do?”

This is the most common question posed on Thanksgiving day to the staff at the Butterball hotline. According to the experts, the answer is to submerge your turkey in cold water, breast-side down, and change the water every 30 minutes. It should take about 30 minutes per pound to completely thaw the turkey.

Strangely enough, the company said they have had callers use various methods to thaw frozen turkeys, including the bathtub, a heating blanket and a dishwasher.

Another memorable call the staff received was a woman who whispered her questions. When asked to speak up, the newlywed explained she was hiding in the closet from her mother-in-law, whom she was trying to impress.

The hotline is open from early November to the day before Christmas and receives more than 100,000 questions per year. But, not surprisingly, the volume of questions peaks on Thanksgiving day, when the group answers more than 12,000 calls.

So, who do we owe “thanks” for Thanksgiving? We can thank the author of “Mary had a Little Lamb,” Sarah Josepha Hale, a school teacher who lived from 1788 to 1879.

Her advocacy for the national holiday began in 1846 and lasted 17 years before it was successful. In support of the proposed national holiday, Hale had written letters to five presidents, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln.

Her initial letters failed to persuade, but the letter she wrote to Lincoln convinced him to support legislation establishing a national holiday of Thanksgiving in 1863. The new national holiday was considered a unifying day after the stress of the American Civil War.

She also wrote numerous editorials that were widely circulated, outlining various recipes to be used for Thanksgiving dinner. These included many things that likely would not have been served at the original Thanksgiving, but today are traditional, such as stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes.

I will now add Mrs. Hale’s name to my Thanksgiving list of things to be thankful for as I, along with about 91 percent of Americans, enjoy turkey on that day. If turkeys could, they would probably have up a poster of Mrs. Hale in their living space and repeatedly peck her with their beaks. If turkeys had any sense, they would question the free food provided to them and the free breast enlargement injections which humans pay “big” money to attain.

In fact, due to the white meat being the most popular part of a turkey, they have been bred to have huge breasts. So much so, that modern day domesticated turkeys are no longer typically able to mate due to the breasts getting in the way for the male. Most hatcheries use artificial insemination to fertilize the eggs of the domestic turkey.

Last year Americans ate around 46 million turkeys, 535 million pounds total. The Calorie Council (yes, there is a group for everything) said the average person eats around 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. That includes the main meal and snacking or nibbling.

What would the Pilgrims and Indians think of us today? It would be interesting to compare with the original Thanksgiving.

One account of the event is in a letter written by Edward Winslow, one of the original settlers who was at the feast. He wrote, “Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together. After we had gathered the fruit of our labors, they four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time, among other Recreations, we exercised our Arms. Many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor and upon the Captain and others.”

So, as Thanksgiving approaches and we get ready for Macy’s Parade, a delicious meal and afternoon football, let’s not forget the joyous time that follows – Black Friday. It’s not just a black day because you ate too much and your clothes are now more snug than ever. It is the time to avoid the shopping malls. If you go be prepared to be less thankful than you were the day before – less thankful due to crowds, long lines, no parking and all the hassle associated with it.

Robert Caspar Lintner  said “Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.”

I find this to be very true. We have so much to be grateful for each and every minute of the day. It isn’t that way everywhere in the world but, I dare say everyone reading this article, is far better off than we can even comprehend.

Comedian Jon Stewart said “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”

I wish you all happy Thanksgiving and happy hunting.