Just like a turkey roasting slowly in the oven, Thanksgiving was a long time in the making. Although some prefer to claim that the "first Thanksgiving" was celebrated in Massachusetts at Plymouth Plantation in 1921, we know the truth: the country's first Thanksgiving was actually held in Virginia which then President Bush confirmed in a 2007 visit to the site. Orders from the London Company required that upon their arrival to Virginia from England, a group of 38 settlers should take part in a service of thanksgiving. After reaching land on Dec. 4, 1619, at Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County, the Englishmen dropped to their knees and thanked God for their safe voyage.
In 1789 President George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation in which he declared, "Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Thomas Jefferson took offense to Washington's declaration and during his eight years as president refused to issue a proclamation for Thanksgiving, arguing that the holiday did not provide adequate separation of church and state.
Sporadic national, regional and individual Thanksgivings followed, but the day did not become an annual, national holiday until 1863. In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day in which to express thanks for the many blessings that we enjoy. Lincoln proclaimed, "The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God."
The fact some presidents and governors accepted Thanksgiving and some did not must have prompted Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 to anchor the holiday to the fourth Thursday in November. He persuaded Congress to pass a bill, which he signed, that established Thanksgiving as a legal holiday.
On this Thanksgiving I am grateful for many blessings. I am thankful for my amazing family, the freedoms that we enjoy in this great country and our men and women in uniform who fight to protect those freedoms. I am also thankful for the honor and privilege that it is to represent Virginia's third Senate district. My service to this district is a task that I hold in extremely high regard and as I recently announced, in 2011 I will humbly be asking for your vote to continue serving.
Thanksgiving Day Facts
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
The number of turkeys expected to be raised in the United States in 2010. That's down 2 percent from the number raised during 2009. The turkeys produced in 2009 together weighed 7.1 billion pounds and were valued at $3.6 billion.
The preliminary estimate of turkeys Minnesota expected to rise in 2010. The Gopher State was tops in turkey production, followed by North Carolina (31.0 million), Arkansas (28.0 million), Missouri (17.5 million), Indiana (16.0 million) and Virginia (15.5 million). These six states together would probably account for about two-thirds of U.S. turkeys produced in 2010.
735 million pounds
The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2010. Wisconsin is expected to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 435 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (195 million). New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are also expected to have substantial production, ranging from 14 million to 53 million pounds.
931 million pounds
Total production of pumpkins produced in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2009. Illinois led the country by producing 429 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California and Ohio also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was
The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2007, with no doubt a hearty helping devoured at Thanksgiving time. Per capita sweet potato consumption was 5.2 pounds.
The Turkey Industry
The value of turkeys shipped in 2002. Arkansas led the way in turkey shipments, with
$581.5 million, followed by Virginia ($544.2 million) and North Carolina ($453 million).
In 2002, poultry businesses with a primary product of turkey totaled 35 establishments, employing about 17,000 people.
Forecast 2010 receipts to farmers from turkey sales. This exceeds the total receipts from sales of products such as barley, oats, sorghum (combined) and peanuts.
The Price is Right
Retail cost per pound of a frozen whole turkey in December 2008.
Where to Feast
Number of places in the United States named after the holiday's traditional main course. Turkey, Texas, was the most populous in 2009, with 445 residents, followed by Turkey Creek, La. (362) and Turkey, N.C. (272). There are also nine townships around the country named Turkey, three in Kansas.
Number of places in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 72,849 residents in 2009; Plymouth, Mass., had 56,842. There is just one township in the United States named "Pilgrim." Located in Dade County, Mo., its population was 126 in 2009. And then there is Mayflower, Ark., whose population was 2,257 in 2009.
Number of households across the nation - all potential gathering places for people to celebrate the holiday.
Norment Stuff Yourself Silly Stuffing
In keeping with tradition and following last year's wildly successful Norment Cranberry Craze, this year I present you with Norment Stuff Yourself Silly Stuffing.
1 1/2 pounds ground sage pork sausage
4 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 cups crumbled cornbread
6 cups cubed soft white bread
1 cup chicken broth
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon steak sauce
1 tablespoon salt
1. Place the sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Cook, breaking sausage apart with a fork, until evenly brown. Set aside, reserving pan drippings.
2. Mix onions and celery into skillet, and cook in the pan drippings until browned. Drain remaining drippings.
3. In a large bowl, toss together the sausage, onions and celery, cornbread, white bread, broth, and eggs. Mix in poultry seasoning, steak sauce, and salt. Stuff turkey just before roasting.
Very truly yours,
Senator Tommy Norment