Thursday, November 27, 2014

Yep, once again it's SJH

Slightly different visual image I've used
from SJH in previous years.
It's already 4pm in Cookeville, TN.  We've eaten round one of our turkey and gravy.  We've made a big bowl of whipped cream, and our three pies are on the table, waiting for us.

And my family said, "Aren't you supposed to write something for that person you write about on Thanksgiving?"

Yes!  So here I am, sharing the importance of a woman who was one of the most powerful people in the 19th c.  She was an editor, writer, etc, and although she had troubling characteristics like a lot of her cohort (white privilege, anybody?), she also tried to make the world around her better.  Her name is Sarah Josepha Hale.

There are loads of powerful and culturally significant things I could tell you about SJH.  Every Thanksgiving I bring her to the blog because she's the one who made Thanksgiving a national holiday, and it's time for another nod to this woman.

For 25 years, she wrote letters to the Presidents.  She was like, "July 4 is a great holiday, but it's the only one we've got.  You know that it would help our national unity if we had one more holiday, at a different time of year, that has symbolic connection to the founding of our country and all that."  She said, "You know that everybody loves turkey, and people need an excuse to eat a ridiculous amount of pie.  So come on."

Because she was the editor of Godey's Ladies Book, a magazine that was so famous that it makes famous things today look puny by comparison, people paid some attention to her.  And in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said, "That SJH has a good idea.  This Civil War's got everybody down, and pumpkin consumption is on the decline.  The sweet potato lobby has been pushing for more support.  So what the hell:  let's make Thanksgiving a national holiday, on the fourth Thursday of November every year."

And here we are:  we're celebrating Thanksgiving, but most of us don't consider that this is a holiday someone's been lobbying on for more than two decades.  We need to acknowledge the efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale.  Many of us now have the day off (not, of course, employees at gas stations or Walmart).  We have unbelievably good food--in my case, two of my favorite foods.

And most importantly, we have the opportunity to reflect on what our highest priorities are.  What happened this year?  Who are the people who've provided support for us, or who we've been able to support?  Are there moments that will be part of our memories forever?  What matters most in November 2014?

1 comment:

  1. Well, I for one am most grateful that after YOUR arduous year, you're here making me laugh and educating me, too. Love and thanksgiving to you, dear Alison!