Letter From New York by Helene Hanff, author of 84, Charing Cross Road

For once it has been decently cool down here in the southern portions, and actually feels like Autumn.

And thus, after a hectic beginning of the month, we’ve progressed to the fourth Thursday of November which is traditionally Thanksgiving here in America.

My thoughts have gone to Helene Hanff’s description of the holiday as written for the BBC Women’s Hour audience of 1978, and kept for us to enjoy in her 1992 volume, Letters From New York, BBC Women’s Hour Broadcasts.

November, 1978 . . .

“Before the days of James the First, a group of English farmers disagreed with the Church of England. “They will conform,” said King James, “or I will harry them out of the kingdom.” They didn’t conform, and he harried them out… They got on a ship called the Mayflower and sailed to the New World, and landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, and established a colony. And since they called themselves “pilgrims” they became known to American history as the Pilgrim Fathers…

“What happened was: the Pilgrims were befriended by the native Americans—the Indians—who taught them how to fertilize the land with eels, how to grow Indian corn and eat it off the cob,

New York City’s finest (Ceremonial division) in the parade rather than walking the beat. Rest assured there were plenty on duty amongst the crowds. I get misty over these guys because 9/11 always comes to mind.

and how to cook and eat an American bird called a turkey. And the next autumn, when the Pilgrims reaped a bountiful harvest, they invited the Indians to a feast where everybody gave thanks to God for the harvest. That feast was the first American Thanksgiving…

“What makes New York’s Thanksgiving unique is the Macy Parade, which has been hauling parents out of bed on Thanksgiving Day for fifty-five years.

(Note: Today is the 92nd parade.)

“The parade features helium-filled balloon likenesses of cartoon characters each as tall as a six- or seven-story building.

(Note: In between the balloons are high school bands and flag wavers and floats from across the country. There was a balloon missing, but as it was windy and below freezing, perhaps they decided a Florida golf course was a better place for someone in a diaper. 😉)

“Americans across the country are determined to get home for Thanksgiving, our quintessential family holiday, more so even than Christmas, since it embraces all religions and recalls the Dissenters’ faith on which this country was founded.”

His Good Self (Santa) always ends the parade at high noon. (The snow was fake, but the 26℉ wasn’t.)

Hope everyone, everywhere, is giving thanks for this day, and enjoying it.

                           🍂 🦃 🦃 🦃 🍂

2 thoughts on “thanksgiving”

  1. You’re very welcome, Kim. I tried to take excerpts, so it’s only about 25% of what she wrote. Hanff was asked to produce a 5-minute piece once a month, and it continued for several years. The slim volume is quite entertaining, and an excellent look back at life in the City at that time.

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  2. We don’t have Thanksgiving here in the UK but it’s always good to be reminded to be thankful for our good fortune.
    I hadn’t seen the Helen Hanff piece before and enjoyed it very much. Thanks for sharing 😃

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