Thanksgiving – Coming up it meant family, food and going around the table saying what we are grateful
for in our own lives. We were taught it was a time where the Indians shared fare and the Pioneers were
grateful or “Thankful” for their neighbors. The knowledge they shared allowed the Pioneers to be better
prepared to make it through the winter.
On October 20, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed the “Thanksgiving Day Proclamation 1864.” A
day of praise and thanks giving to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.
In September, 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, an experienced admiral from Spain, settled St.
Augustine, Florida and called the people together for a mass of thanksgiving. Joining the settlers were
the nearby Seloy Indians. The feast for that occasion was garbanzo beans, garlic-flavored pork, hardtack
biscuits and red wine.
This festival, coming at the first permanent settlement in America, is considered by many historians to
be the first and most continuing Thanksgiving on American soil by foreign settlers. In fact, there has long
been a quarrel between those who hold to the St. Augustine theory and the Plymouth Colony theory of
“first Thanksgiving” site.
Here in the Northeast Georgia Mountains, we may not have been the first but we have our own
remembrances to celebrate and show our gratefulness for.
Early on the families living in the Choestoe Valley raised turkeys for market. They would choose a time in
late October or early November to have a “turkey drive” on the Logan Turnpike and take the turkeys to
Gainesville for sale. Imagine the turkeys roosting in the trees at night as the entourage camped along
the way and rose early to get the turkeys ready for the march to market. In their covered wagons they
would have bags of chestnuts gathered from trees in the woods. Also traded was sorghum syrup that
was made at the Dyer mill; corn, pumpkins, dried peas and beans, and a flock of turkeys that had been
wrangled and coerced to make the trip from the Choestoe Valley. That week’s journey to and from
market and the goods traded were a way of life for those that came to this area before us.
Garrison Keillor once said, “List your blessings and you will walk through those gates of thanksgiving and
into the fields of joy.”
There is an old Quaker prayer, which I love that says, “For all blessings, known and unknown,
remembered and forgotten, we are truly grateful.” Small kindnesses, ordinary moments tend to be
those forgotten on most days.*
o The sun setting – or rising – caught your eye and soul in a way that melted your heart.
o The mountain mist rising from the lake and allowing just a peek at the Blue hue having given our
mountains their name.
o A loved one gave, gives you a wink, a hug, a phone call at just the right moment … just
As we approach our own Day of Thanks, remember the little things in life and reflect on those that have
come before us. Personally, I am going to have a grateful giggle on the folks that instead of a cattle drive
spent several days and nights going close to 50 miles driving turkeys!
As always, we want to Thank you for spending a moment of your day with us and
Welcome to the Mountains