CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: COLLIE

HED:Carolyn Collier: It's Thanksgiving Day: Where is your focus?

A good friend of mine had a frightening dream last week.

It was Thanksgiving Day. Her children, grandchildren and mother-in-law were gathered around her for the bountiful feast she had spent days creating. The piping hot dishes were being placed on the table, and what startled her eyes when she opened the refrigerator door?

A frozen turkey.

Now, that is a homemaker's nightmare for sure. Especially at this time of year when cooks are taking pride in preparing specialties for their beloveds.

I've been known to prepare and freeze casseroles and desserts as early as October in anticipation of Thanksgiving. And my wonderful cornbread dressing can be made ahead of time - without the turkey - because I use bouillon instead of the turkey bird's juices.

Three years ago, having planned to travel out of town for Thanksgiving, I became sick and found myself at home alone without the traditional feast. I remember dragging my miserable self around the kitchen to make dressing. I might die, but I must have dressing on Thanksgiving Day.

I admit it.

I relate food and the gathering of distant relatives and friends more than anything else to Thanksgiving Day. That's simply the way it's always been in my family. However, deer hunting tempted some male members whose presence was demanded at the table.

In my youth, Thanksgiving meant delicious dishes in pretty settings, visits with cherished relatives and strolls through brilliant fallen leaves during a favorite season of the year. As an adult, creating delicacies for the big day became my responsibility, one which I learned to relish with enthusiasm. And I still enjoy an autumnal stroll to aid the digestion of the feast.

Although it is rivaled in tasty confections by Christmas Day, the fourth Thursday in November - "Turkey Bird Day" - really is a major day of feasting.

It rests grandly in the center of an extended secular and religious holiday season during which food plays a prominent role - beginning with the abundant candy of Halloween (All Saints Eve), and climaxing with succulent hams and desserts on Christmas (commemoration of the birth of Christ).

Where is your focus for this Thanksgiving holiday?

Feast, football, faith, family, fall amblings or frantically shopping the holiday sales?

It's an active time of year.

Churches and schools sponsor a variety of harvest fund-raisers; retail sales explode with bargains for Christmas gift-hungry shoppers; schoolchildren dress as pilgrims and Indians; hunters flock to the woods; families flock homeward.

And it's heaven on earth for football fans.

Today, football games fill the day: The Detroit Lions play the Pittsburgh Steelers this morning, the Dallas Cowboys play the Minnesota Vikings this afternoon, and, tonight, the big Egg Bowl is the showdown for rivals Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

The more reverent Thanksgiving services seem somewhat overshadowed by all these other festivities, but our newspaper is testament that they are being held throughout Northeast Mississippi.

And that - giving thanks - is what many of us seem to forget.

Thanksgiving, according to Webster's Tenth Edition Collegiate Dictionary, is "a day appointed for giving thanks for divine goodness."

This year, because my column was scheduled to appear on Thanksgiving Day, I have pondered the day and what it means. I hope I have a new focus: to be thankful for so many things, and each year to give more thanks than just the blessing that goes with the turkey.

Carolyn Collier is the Daily Journal's newsroom assistant.

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