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Remembering Thanksgiving traditions
Rice Drsg Recipe
Above is a recipe for rice dressing. - photo by Photo provided

Thanksgiving of course began with the Pilgrims in 1621 somewhere between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11. They wanted to give thanks and invited the Indians. About 90 Indians were in attendance at the first Thanksgiving.

By October 1877, all thirteen colonies celebrated some sort of day of Thanksgiving. In 1789 President George Washington proclaimed Nov. 26 a public day of thanksgiving and praise. It was not celebrated every year but off and on.

Sarah Josepha Hale advocated for 40 years for a permanent date for an annual Thanksgiving. Sarah was author of the nursery rhyme, “Mary had a little Lamb.” On Oct. 3, 1863, President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be a national day of Thanksgiving and praise to try and unite the country in light of the battles of the Civil War. It was not held on annual basis until Dec. 26, 1941, when Congress declared the fourth Thursday in November to be the annual holiday.

Our county used to be primarily agricultural and the harvest was celebrated as a day for Thanksgiving for God’s bounty. There was no football then or store bought turkeys. In years gone by, it was celebrated as a real holiday and in general, all except essential services observed the holiday with a day off. Of course, hospital workers, public safety officers, our military and some gas stations were about all who did not observe the holiday. We celebrated with a church service on the day or eve of the holiday.

Nowadays Thanksgiving is a day when a meal is prepared and shared with family at home. It may be the only home prepared meal in a year as some people tend to eat out much of the time. Of course, football games consume the day. Now shopping has begun on this holiday, requiring more who work retail to work on what was once a sure day off.

Our family often had two kinds of dressing for Thanksgiving. Aunt Rebecca Wilson occasionally prepared her hen and rice dressing. Her recipe is shared here today. Since the hen was greasy, I would now separate and remove fat from the broth if preparing it today. She used the fat in the broth because we did not know about cholesterol when I was a child. This dressing was very different having some giblets in the flavorful broth laden rice and no bread products in it.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, be safe and please pray for our country and the whole world. The important thing is to share a meal, enjoy family and give thanks. Please be in prayer for and thank our military and their families for their service and sacrifices for us.

This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact her at 754-6681 or email her at: