Through our readings (that aren’t cookbooks) the food with which characters partake in are always vessels for intangible experiences and motivations. From Lee-Young Li’s introspections in “Persimmons” of childhoods and past loves to Japanese mother-made lunchboxes as representations of a nation’s cultural ideology. Sarah Josepha Hale’s Thanksgiving writings does not stray from this trend. In a young country with few celebratory days, Hale saw a chance and a need to establish a uniquely American tradition. She engaged in multiple literary ventures that I found it particularly interesting because in each piece, her words became increasingly direct and thus her mission became transparent. (She went from “Hey guys, you know what would be cool? Making Thanksgiving a holiday!” to “Mr. President we MUST have a Thanksgiving established NOW!”)

“Not yet; but I trust it will become so. We have too few holidays. Thanksgiving, like the Fourth of July, should be considered a national festival, and observed by all our people.”
You can’t get much more explicit than that.

I’m curious as to what Hale would think of the Thanksgiving entity that we have today. I’m curious because this quote–
“..it will be a grand spectacle of moral power and human happiness, such as the world has never yet witnessed.”
made me mentally compare these eloquent words to the more commercial event the holiday has become. While the “human happiness” factor has certainly been achieved (especially following Black Friday and Cyber Monday) I am unsure of how she expected the “spectacle of moral power” to materialize. However, I think she will overall be satisfied of Thanksgiving’s national prominence as a holiday and a reason for families to come together (hopefully without any familial bickering the holiday is also known for.)

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