> Bless Their Hearts Mom: History Corner: Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience by Melanie Kirkpatrick
Thursday, November 10, 2016

History Corner: Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience by Melanie Kirkpatrick

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book, free of charge,from Encounter Books, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

Did you ever wonder WHY we celebrate Thanksgiving in November, when it was a harvest celebration?

Or when it became federally recognized on the 3rd Thursday of November?

Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience cover


We all know the story of Thanksgiving. Or do we? This uniquely American holiday has a rich and little known history beyond the famous feast of 1621.

In Thanksgiving, award-winning author Melanie Kirkpatrick journeys through four centuries of history, giving us a vivid portrait of our nation's best-loved holiday. Drawing on newspaper accounts, private correspondence, historical documents, and cookbooks, Thanksgiving brings to life the full history of the holiday and what it has meant to generations of Americans.

Many famous figures walk these pages—Washington, who proclaimed our first Thanksgiving as a nation amid controversy about his Constitutional power to do so; Lincoln, who wanted to heal a divided nation sick of war when he called for all Americans—North and South—to mark a Thanksgiving Day; FDR, who set off a debate on state's rights when he changed the traditional date of Thanksgiving.

Ordinary Americans also play key roles in the Thanksgiving story—the New England Indians who boycott Thanksgiving as a Day of Mourning; Sarah Josepha Hale, the nineteenth-century editor and feminist who successfully campaigned for Thanksgiving to be a national holiday; the 92nd Street Y in New York City, which founded Giving Tuesday, an online charity established in the long tradition of Thanksgiving generosity. Kirkpatrick also examines the history of Thanksgiving football and, of course, Thanksgiving dinner.

While the rites and rituals of the holiday have evolved over the centuries, its essence remains the same: family and friends feasting together in a spirit of gratitude to God, neighborliness, and hospitality. Thanksgiving is Americans' oldest tradition. Kirkpatrick's enlightening exploration offers a fascinating look at the meaning of the holiday that we gather together to celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November.


Click on over to Melanie's website, and read a sample chapter!

Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience sample illustrations 1


Ah Thanksgiving....

Another historical period that drove me nuts, when I realized how Miss Grace's textbook had dealt with the arrival if the Pilgrims and their early history. AKA, they left out a WHOLE lot, and that lot, was a VITAL part of the story. SIGH.

So it was timely for me to get to be able to read this book, a mere week or two after we finished revisiting Plymouth and making sure Miss Grace was more aware of the accurate history. I was really impressed with HOW much history Melanie got into this book, which isn't huge by any means,at only 272 pages! This really is a wonderful homeschool reference book, as you could easily make a wonderful 4 week unit study from it, including cookie some of the very olde and interesting recipes in it. I had to smile when I realized that Grandma's Yankeee cranberry relish recipe was VERY close to that of the settler from the 1600s. Isn't it amazing how food traditions keep constant, even over centuries? Add in the readings and history timeline, and you have a book entertains AND educates, the ENTIRE family! 

We really can;t recommend this book enough for history buffs, and those who just want some great Thanksgiving trivia for the family holiday table! It would make a GREAT hostess gift too!

Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience sample illustrations 2

About the Author:

Melanie Kirkpatrick is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a former deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. She is the author of Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad, which World Magazine named its 2013 Book of the Year. She has lived in Tokyo, Toronto, Hong Kong, Honolulu and Manhattan, and currently resides in rural Connecticut with her husband, Jack David. Check out her website for more info.

About the Illustrator:

Katherine Messenger attended Davidson College in Davidson, NC, and graduated with degrees in Classics (Latin lit.) and Studio Art (painting and print-making) and held the Pepper Visual Arts Scholarship. Since then married two long-held, natural interests—words and art—into one: designing with type and her own art. She loves finding new ways for them to interact, to suit the individual needs of individual projects. It is an endlessly interesting and ripe field to work in, and she loves the joy of creating something hands can hold.  To keep the other half of her brain sharp and engaged in grammar, usage, and word breaks, she works as the copy-editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer in New York City. She lives with her husband in the Hudson Valley, with a mini-forest of tomato and blueberry plants in the summer, and many cups of hot tea in illustrated animal mugs in the winter.

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