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Family, food and football make up a traditional Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

Grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and children gather on the fourth Thursday of November to give thanks for each other and all the blessings in their lives over a fat bird and a pigskin.

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers

Family, food and football make up a traditional Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

Grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and children gather on the fourth Thursday of November to give thanks for each other and all the blessings in their lives over a fat bird and a pigskin.

Stuffing oneself to immobility and vegetating on the couch while watching today’s titans battle on a big screen with the people who mean the most stems from years of American tradition.

Today, Thanksgiving’s roots still run deep, disguised by high-definition television and turkey deep-fryers.

Family

Kenny Jr. pulled Sally’s hair on the ride to grandma’s and mom’s mad at dad because he had to watch the last play in the third quarter of the first Thanksgiving Day football game before they left, but when they get to grandma’s, everyone will sit down together peacefully to eat the meal grandma spent the last week preparing.

Thanksgiving traditionally entails families — biological or not — gathering to celebrate the lives they live together.

Meredith Menerey, who works at Desert Flower Bakery in the Village of Oak Creek, said her family sings “Over the River and Through the Woods,” on their way to their Thanksgiving meal.

“That was the official start to the holiday season,” Menerey said.

The song used to be sung while Menerey’s family, in fact, drove  to her grandmother’s house. This year Menerey said she’s hosting Thanksgiving dinner so her family will have to sing on their way to her home.

Most families have one or two traditions that mark each Thanksgiving Day celebration which are passed down from grandparents and carried on by grandchildren.

Food

Once families gather, mounds of food pours out of the kitchen, bloating stomachs to capacity and making eyelids heavy.

According to the National Turkey Federation, Americans ate an estimated 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving in 2006, totaling approximately 690 million pounds of meat.

Turkeys take center stage of the Thanksgiving spread on most dinner tables and often entail hours of grueling work to prepare.

A survey by the National Turkey Federation found 88 percent of people surveyed eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

In the past, most turkeys were cooked in ovens but today cooks are getting creative. Deep fryers, smokers and barbecues often beat out conventional ovens when it comes time to cook the bird.

Once the turkey’s done, statistics report 70 percent of Americans feast on white meat, which has fewer calories and less fat.

In a traditional setting, a bird is complimented by cranberry sauce, stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes and bread, much of which often ends up in leftover dishes.

Football

Stuffed stomachs and tired kitchen feet combine mid-afternoon, creating Thanksgiving zombies good for only thing — watching football.

The first football game played on Thanksgiving occurred in 1876 when Intercollegiate Football Association players met on the field for festive competition.

In 1920, football permanently weaseled its way into Thanksgiving celebration.

The Akron Pros defeated the Canton Bulldogs, 7-0, in the first NFL game on Thanksgiving Day. From that year on, the tradition continued, and became an annual affair for some sports fans.

Each year, both the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys both host a game. The Lions started hosting games in 1934 and the Cowboys in 1966.

This year, three games make for a tackle-packed day with the Green Bay Packers at Detroit, the New York Jets at Dallas and the Indianapolis Colts at Atlanta against the Falcons.

The first games could only be seen by fans who attended the game, but today fancy televisions and good technology bring lifelike football players into living rooms all across the country.

Today’s Thanksgiving activities, minus speciality turkey cookers and high-tech televisions, can be broken down to the simplest form of celebration of decades past — family, food and football.


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