New Hampshire: And Be Ye Thankful

I was reading through the old New Hampshire newspapers about how Thanksgiving was celebrated in the “olde days.”

I found one particular article regarding the meaning of Thanksgiving.  In 1879, a story (written only 16 years after Thanksgiving became a national holiday) mentioned that already “Too many of the little folks (and big ones too) think Thanksgiving means turkey and pumpkin-pie, and good things to eat, instead of cheerful, grateful hearts.  They hardly ever associate the words, “and be ye thankful,” with their bountiful and beautiful provisions of their Thanksgiving days….a happy home, and all the love and good things in it.  The essence of the story is that Thanksgiving Day originated when people who did not have food, were supplied it.   How better can we today share the true spirit of that day, than by sharing our blessings with others?”

To show your thanks, consider a donation of food or money to the New Hampshire Food Bank,   the Salvation Army, to your local church/synagogue/mosque (when they collect for the needy), or to your local homeless shelter.  Even if you are reading this AFTER Thanksgiving… people go hungry and homeless all year long, not just as the holidays. It is never too late to support these amazing organizations and the kind and necessary work they do.

A U.S. Census Bureau report, issued in 2010 estimated that 96,000 New Hampshire people lived below the federal poverty guidelines ($18,850 for a family of four) at some point during 2003, up from 79, 200 people in 2002 and 63,300 people in 2000. Most of these people rely on a combination of government food assistance programs and emergency food providers to get enough to eat.

New Hampshire Traditions Still in Vogue
The modern-day tradition of businesses giving turkeys to their employees is not new.  It started over 120 years ago….  The Farmer’s Cabinet, 9 Dec 1879. Messrs. Eaton & Williams, proprietors of the Francestown Soapstone Works at Nashua furnished each head of a family in their employ with a Thanksgiving turkey. The single men were given a turkey’s worth of money in lieu of a turkey. The help at the quarry in Francestown were remembered in a similar manner by this liberal firm. So says the “Telegraph.”

Today we take it for granted that fruit and nuts are commonplace parts of our diet.  They were a tad more expensive in 1879, but were an important part of the Thanksgiving celebration, as shown in this advertisement for “Thanksgiving supplies” sold at Adams & Wallace, in Milford, New Hampshire included: fruit (oranges, raisins, citron, figs, grapes, currants, and lemons), New English Walnuts, Castenas, Almonds, Filberts, Peanuts, Fancy Crackers, Canned Goods and the largest stock of pure Confectionery, Caramells, etc.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

No shade, no shine, no butterflies,
no bees
No fruit, no flowers, no leaves,
no birds! — No-vember!
Thomas Hood.. (1799-1845)

-Photograph: Turkeys on the Lam. (A friend sent this to me via email)-

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