Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Health Care and Giving Thanks

Almost 400 years ago, the first Americans and the first immigrants came together to celebrate to celebrate the goodness of God to the community known as Plimouth in the New World. The survivors of the Mayflower who were able to make it through the first winter in America had reason to meet with their Native American hosts and have 3 days to feast on the bounties of the land, their meager harvest, and the ability to live in a new land protected by friendly tribal members, including the highly respected Massasoit, leader of the Indians in the area.  Our national holiday really stems from the feast held in the autumn of 1621, by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag to celebrate the colony's first successful harvest.

One child's diary survived since then and reports about the First Thanksgiving in America: "To celebrate our first harvest our Governor, Master Bradford, called for a celebration. Four men went hunting wild fowl and brought back enough geese, ducks and other birds to last nearly a week! We ate, played at games, and the men practiced shooting their muskets. The Indians came amongst us as well, among them their greatest King Massasoit and more than 90 men! I was most frightened at first, but they stayed for three days and we entertained and feasted them. And they went out and brought us five deer. While they were here I even saw some of their children!"

According to Holidays.net, the following year the Pilgrims harvest was not as bountiful, as they were still unused to growing the corn. During the year they had also shared their stored food with newcomers and the Pilgrims ran short of food. The 3rd year brought a spring and summer that was hot and dry with the crops dying in the fields. Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and prayer, and it was soon thereafter that the rain came. To celebrate - November 29th of that year was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. This date is believed to be the real true beginning of the present day Thanksgiving Day. The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

According to General George Washington and his army, as instructed by the Continental Congress, they stopped in bitter weather in the open fields on their way to Valley Forge. And, Washington, as the nation's first President, declared November 26, 1789, as a national day of "thanksgiving and prayer." A few months after his inauguration, Washington issued "Presidential Proclamation Number One", his Thanksgiving as the first President. According to the HolidaySpot.com, he voiced his personal conviction that "it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God."

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday. Congress officially declared Thanksgiving as a National Holiday in 1941, not long before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that year.

Over the years, Americans have deemed Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and celebrate. Friends and families come together and enjoy a wonderful turkey dinner. By following simple storage, handling and cooking suggestions, your family can enjoy a safe, healthy Thanksgiving dinner, according to Fletcher Allen's Health Care blog. Follow these tips to keep away an unwanted Thanksgiving guest – food poisoning.

■Handle food carefully. Wash hands, dishes, kitchen equipment and work surfaces before and after handling raw food. Don’t forget to clean knives after each use. Even frozen food can contain bacteria.

■Cook food thoroughly. Salmonella is a common food poisoning typically found in raw meats, poultry, milk and fish – and it can only be destroyed by cooking foods thoroughly. You can’t tell if the turkey is done just by looking at it. Use a food thermometer to be sure (temperatures above 140 degrees). To learn more about how to use a food thermometer check out this United States Department of Agriculture website – www.fsis.usda.gov/Is_It_Done_Yet/index.asp .

■It is okay to thaw a turkey in its original plastic for up to two days. After that, move the turkey to another container such as plastic wrap or foil. Store the thawing turkey in the fridge, rather than on the kitchen counter.

■Remove all stuffing from the turkey before refrigerating leftover meat. Keep the stuffing, gravy or broth in a separate container.

Symptoms of food poisoning include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and sometimes fever. Some symptoms may happen soon after eating and some make take hours to days to develop.

It doesn’t hurt to plan your menu early, either, according to ApartmentTherapy.com.  Once you’ve set your menu, start thinking about what you can make ahead and store in the fridge or freezer. You can make cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie a few days in advance, which really minimizes the stress of cooking for a crowd. Also, if you’ve invited someone whose family always serves a particular dish at their Thanksgiving dinner, ask them to bring it! They’ll appreciate having their traditions included and you’ll appreciate having one less thing to make. Then, on Thanksgiving day, you’ve planned and purchased and made-ahead and now the day has finally arrived! There is no way around this—you will have to get up early. Once your bird is in the oven though, time is on your side. If your dinner guests are your houseguests as well, enlist someone to take the gang out for the morning. Many towns and cities have parades and a game of touch football or a walk around the neighborhood is a nice way to get ahead of those Thanksgiving calories. In the meantime, you can prep your remaining menu items, set out cheese and crackers, set the table—and enjoy a cup of coffee in the last quiet you’ll get all day. Once everyone gets back (or starts to arrive), let them entertain themselves while you finish everything up. Don’t worry about serving dinner at 2:00pm on the dot—as long as your guests have something to nibble and drink, you can relax about the timing.

And, if you need help with recipes for Thanksgiving, there is a bounty of offerings to be found at the Taste of Home site: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Holiday---Celebration-Recipes/Thanksgiving-Recipes?DestURL=/Recipes/Holiday---Celebration-Recipes/Thanksgiving-Recipes&pmcode=IKKDQ02G&email=markr@careington.com&indID=000005214850371&_mid=766532&_rid=766532.609800.358537

Whatever your background and history of family traditions surrounding this holiday, Thanksgiving is truly an American celebration. Families and individuals are able to meet and express their thanks for all the blessings they have and how much they have to celebrate. Even if your year has been tough due to economic problems, job loss, illness, loss of loved ones, or other stressful issues, life can always be worse. Be thankful for even the smallest of blessings, and give thanks to God for providing your needs. 

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

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