Thanksgiving Traditions and Turkey Notes

That wonderful day is coming when family is around, turkey is on the table and football is on the TV – Thanksgiving day. Thanksgiving was not always celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November nor were the main foods always turkey, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole.

The first US Thanksgiving was held between September 21 and November 11, 1621 in Massachusetts by 50 Plymouth Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag neighbors. The meal consisted of seafood: cod, eel, clams and lobster; and fowl: wild turkey, goose, duck, crane, swan, partridge and eagles. There was pumpkin, peas, beans, onions, radishes and carrots with plums and grapes for fruit. After this first Thanksgiving, the holiday was held fairly randomly. It was used to celebrate a good harvest or making it though the winter. It wasn’t until President Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill on November 26, 1941 that Thanksgiving was established as the fourth Thursday in November.

Davenport has its own unique Thanksgiving tradition – the Turkey Note. A Turkey Note is a simple 2, 3 or 4 line rhyme that is wrapped in a tissue paper, tied at both ends and given to friends and family. Turkey notes go like this:

Turkey Brown

Turkey Baste

Turkey dinners

Go to waist

If you went to grade school in Davenport, it’s likely you’ve written a few Turkey Notes yourself. What was your favorite? Or try your hand at writing a new one, whether you’ve written one before or not – they’re fun! Get in the holiday spirit and share it in the comments!

You can find out more about Turkey Notes and other unique aspects of Davenport history in the Richardson Sloane Special Collections Department located in the lower level of the Main library.

An Alternative to Parades and Football

For those who don’t like parades or football, try a Thanksgiving movie:

Alice’s Restaurant (1969) – Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie’s song is converted into a motion picture. Arlo goes to see Alice for Thanksgivng and as a favor takes her trash to the dump. When the dump is closed, he drops it on top of another pile of garbage at the bottom of a ravine. When the local sheriff finds out a major manhunt begins. Arlo manages to survive the courtroom experience but it haunts him when he is to be inducted into the army via the draft

Home for the Holidays (1995) – Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft

After losing her job, making out with her soon to be ex-boss, and finding out that her daughter plans to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend, Claudia Larson has to face spending the holiday with her family. She wonders if she can survive their crazy antics.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

Peppermint Patty invites herself and her friends over to Charlie Brown’s for Thanksgiving, and with Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock, he attempts to throw together a Thanksgiving dinner.

Pieces of April (2003) – Katie Holmes, Oliver Platt

April Burns (Holmes) invites her family to Thanksgiving dinner at her teeny apartment on New York’s Lower East Side. As they make their way to the city from suburban Pennsylvania, April must endure a comedy of errors – like finding out her oven doesn’t work – in order to pull off the big event.

Ice Storm (1997) – Kevin Kline, Joan Allen

In the weekend after Thanksgiving 1973, the Hoods are skidding out of control. Benjamin Hood reels from drink to drink, trying not to think about his trouble at the office. His wife, Elena, is reading self help books and losing patience with her husband’s lies. Their son, Paul, home for the holidays, escapes to the city to pursue an alluring rich girl from his prep school. And young, budding nymphomaniac, Wendy Hood roams the neighborhood, innocently exploring liquor cabinets and lingerie drawers of her friends’ parents, looking for something new. Then an ice storm hits, the worst in a century and things get bad…

Eddie’s Bastard by William Kowalski

A story of growing up and searching for one’s identity, Eddie’s Bastard by William Kowalski is bound to grab you from the first sentence and not let go until the end.

Abandoned on his grandfather’s doorstep with the note “Eddie’s Bastard” pinned to the basket, Billy Mann grows up without parents but surrounded by the love and family stories of his grandfather Thomas Mann. Living mostly in isolation on the decaying family homestead (Thomas lost the family fortune when he invested it in ostriches in the 1940s), Billy faces the ups and downs, tragedies and joys of growing up with humor and a positive outlook. There are lively subplots about the family curse, the identity of Billy’s mother, and the diary of Billy’s great-great-grandfather but the relationship between Thomas and Billy remains central to the story.

Beautifully written – you will feel as if you are part of the Mann family – Eddie’s Bastard is bittersweet yet surprisingly uplifting. This is one book you’ll wish would never end.

The Creative Family by Amanda Soule

Although it’s stated purpose is to give you ideas for play and creativity with your children, The Creative Family also functions as a gentle parenting guide with projects that are designed to encourage active participation for child and parent together. Emphasis is on the handmade and imperfect; the goal here is shared experiences.

Although a wide variety of projects are given here (drawing and painting, sewing and embroidering, putting on a play, making music) you’re encouraged to be spontaneous, have fun, explore the world around you.

Included are ideas for celebrating family holidays and events, creating rituals, preserving memories with photos, transforming children’s art into personal displays for your home, and exploring the natural world season by season.