Thanksgiving, Black Friday, deer and other holiday myths debunked

Here we are again, another year behind us and Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror. I love this time of year. I love the cooking (and the eating), and I love having a house full of family and friends to enjoy it all. I love taking the time to express our thankfulness for all of the many blessings we enjoy. Our family is healthy; we are, I suppose, weathering the sputtering economy just about as well as most people, and we have wonderful friends in a great community. Our children are well on their way to making their own way in the world, and we have a beautiful, delightful granddaughter.

I ended up spending a lot of “think” time in the car this week, which means I had a lot of time to reflect on our Thanksgiving holiday and traditions. One thought led to another and before long, I was comparing our Thanksgiving traditions today to those of the very first Thanksgiving, and I had to chuckle. My, how far we’ve come.

Thanksgiving in the U.S. really stems from the feast held in the autumn of 1621 by the Pilgrims and the Native American Wampanoag people, celebrating the colony’s first successful harvest. From what I’ve read, those folks dined on pumpkins and cranberries and wild turkey – the roasting kind, not the pouring kind.  That came later.

But then what? Would the pilgrim guys and their Native American counterparts stuff themselves on the feast, then retire to their man caves to watch their version of football until they were comatose with tryptophan and pigskin contests?

I imagined what their Black Friday might’ve looked like, had they had one. Would the “women folk” have risen early the day after Thanksgiving, having scoped out all the sales on berries and twigs, strategizing and then rampaging out into the woods to be the first in line to get them? Would there be punches thrown and hair pulled in the name of saving a buck? It’s a weird train of thought, I know, but it does make you think.

I read somewhere the other day that, only in the U.S. will we spend an entire day giving thanks for all that we have, then kill ourselves and anyone who gets in our way on the day after Thanksgiving just to get more stuff. You have to appreciate the irony.

All this thinking led me to do a little research about Thanksgiving, and I ran across a list of myths and truths about the holiday that kind of took me by surprise. For one thing, according to the researcher (a rather crabby spoilsport named Rick Shenkman), Texans actually claim to have held the first Thanksgiving feast. That figures; Texans claim to be the first or biggest, or both, with respect to pretty much anything, don’t they? This grouchy de-bunker also claimed that the only thing we know for sure that was served at the first Thanksgiving was deer, not turkey. How did they stuff it? I don’t even want to think about it.

Oh well. The other myths this guy tackled included everything from what pilgrims wore to how they felt about having fun. Doing that research kind of ruined the mood for me, so I quit reading. I’ll stick with my own Norman Rockwell notions Mr. Shenkman, thank you very much.

Here’s to hoping that you and your loved ones enjoyed Thanksgiving and are having a grand time preparing for Christmas, arriving in just 4 short weeks! Whether you carve deer, turkey or pastrami, as long as you’re sharing it with those you love, what else matters?

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was named Finalist for 2017 Georgia Author of the Year in the Detective/Mystery genre. Her previous three books are written with loving humor about the South. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on, Barnes &, and at When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family, and life in her beloved South. Follow Carole on Facebook (Carole Townsend-Author), Twitter @caroletownsend