Thankful Time

Thanks for making our towns and valley, our state and nation, better places to live

By Mike Jopek

Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the wild turkey our national symbol. No he didn’t, it’s a myth, as complicated as our history.

President Abraham Lincoln established the holiday during the height of the Civil War. President Franklin Roosevelt set Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November.

Early on, people recognized the importance of giving thanks, being grateful, and appreciating others amongst us. Our national celebration has roots going back nearly 400 years to the days of Plymouth Rock.

Aside from all our preconceived notions, we are just people. Most of us are doing the best that we can.

Maybe you like turkey. Maybe it’s the potatoes and yams. Maybe it’s the squash. Or the cranberries mixed with red currents, or that stuffing, the dried bread medley of onions, celery, sausage, and spices. Likely it’s just everything mixed together.

Some people enjoy the giblets in the stuffing. I boil the liver, heart, gizzard and neck meat to add substance to smooth gravy. Gravy is that sauce, the added flavor to things like mashed potatoes, which is blended with butter, salt and milk.

It’s hard telling what’s the favorite pie of the day. Pumpkin for sure, but the apple and cream pies can’t be ignored.

Football has been a part of Thanksgiving for nearly 100 years. This year, televisions in living rooms across the nation will be blaring multiple games on celebration day.

Aside from the feasting and sports, family will be in town. Friends will join friends and enjoy each other’s company. We’ll talk, catch up, and be grateful for the time.

Most everyone is tired of the constant political partisanship and bickering in Washington D.C. We just want to get some stuff done and get along with others. Politics and Thanksgiving have a long, complicated history.

The other day, I saw that neighborhood flock of wild turkeys as I was leaving the farm. They don’t much bother us much these days, the farm is put to bed, there’s not too much trouble they can get into. The little dog seems to have a differing opinion.

Maybe the little terrier-mix remembers, as I do, the early spring days as we spent hours transplanting onion starts into the cold ground. The following days we found lots of little onion greens spewed about on the soil as if one of us planters was doing a really bad job.

Turns out it was the turkeys pulling the onion greens out of the ground, promptly spitting them out, as if the flavor was not sweet enough, and then moving down the row repeating the trial. It was an infuriating discovery. The wild turkeys wasted so many onions, so much time.

We grew plenty of onions this year. It worked out OK. We’re lucky. Others are less fortunate.

Thanksgiving is a good time to give back to our community by donating to groups like the North Valley Food Bank. $20 lets the pantry purchase 40 pounds of bananas while $50 helps them distribute 120 pounds of potatoes to hungry people.

One in three people the North Valley Food Bank gives food to are kids under 18 years old. The pantry distributes food twice weekly and is a butcher shop for Hunters Against Hunger. It does an amazing job getting good food to hungry people.

Friends, I am grateful that we get to live in the most spectacular place on the planet, that life is full of friends and work has purpose. I am thankful that after all these years of finding the words to put down on paper, that readers like you continue to allow room for the opinions of others. Thanks for making our towns and valley, our state and nation, better places to live.