Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Set an extra Thanksgiving plate

Wick's World


This year I will be setting an extra plate at the Thanksgiving Day table and it will be filled with food. Indigenous people have done this long before there even was such a holiday. The extra plate is part of the ritual feeding of the ancestors or spirits who have gone to live in the other world.

I came up with this clever idea just a moment ago as a cool way for me and my extended family of wife, sons, in-laws and friends to remember my mother, Leone Fisher, who died on Thanksgiving Day just a few years ago. I realized that every Thanksgiving Day since her death, I failed to connect the two incidents. Actually, my father, Oral Fisher, died on my son’s birthday and I don’t ever remember connecting those two events either. It is certainly not because I have forgotten them. Rather I think it is because I think of them so often the rest of the year that to somehow have to celebrate their "death day" seems pretty silly. I have been told by one of my spiritual leaders that we humans mostly have that wrong. The incidents when you think about your loved one who has passed on to the other side is actually your loved one calling you to attention by their thinking about you.

Though details vary depending on the source, the Thanksgiving feast as we know it originated in America sometime in the autumn of 1621. The previous year, 102 passengers had arrived on the shores of America on the Mayflower. The winter was so harsh that year that about 60 of the original colony survived. They gathered with 91 members of the local Wampanoag tribe, who incidentally supplied most of the food, to celebrate the bounty of that summer’s plentiful harvest. However, the day was not all filled with peace and love and the handful of hippie beads that eventually purchased Long Island. According to a handwritten account of that day, it appears that although the Pilgrims supplied very little of the food, they supplied all of the booze.

We all probably at some point in our family histories have had amongst our midst a "good old Uncle Albert" who just can’t seem to behave once the booze gets talking. Soon there was some animosity between the two factions who only moments before were breaking bread with each other. Eventually the obnoxious behavior of the imbibers led to fighting. The Wampanoag, realizing they were the ones without the guns, folded up their blankets and went home. Nothing was said in the written account about who got the leftovers but it was noted that at least nobody other than the turkey got shot or killed.

History credits John Hanson from Charles County, Maryland, for giving the day its name. He set aside Thursday, November 28, 1782, as a day to "give thanks." Seven years later, George Washington declared Thanksgiving Day a national holiday.

I spent the first two Thanksgivings following my discharge from the Army in Phoenix, Arizona. I moved there because it had a warm climate more similar to that of Panama where I had left, albeit without the rain. Ironically, I have spent most of the past 10 Thanksgivings in the same city. Once my son moved permanently to Phoenix following his graduation from Arizona State University, we have been joined by our sons who make the short drive from San Diego, California, and our in-laws who make the even shorter drive down from Scottsdale.

The best part of our annual Thanksgiving in Phoenix, aside from seeing our loved ones, is the fact that the feast is generally consumed outside on the picnic table. This year set an extra plate in memory of those who have gone before you. See if it does anything for you; or them.


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