By Common Consent wishes a Happy Thanksgiving to all of those who share and participate in this wonderful community. In celebration of a holiday characterized by a table overflowing with countless delicious and diverse culinary creations, we offer you a selection of Thanksgiving-themed contributions from our authors. Whether you crave cranberries or haiku, music or football, there is something here for everyone. Enjoy!
From Steve Evans
Thanks to all of our readers and friends. You are the reason we maintain this site. We don’t always show it, but we love our BCC community. I’m profoundly grateful for all of you. Yes, even Aaron.
From John F.
Here’s to a City on a Hill That Cannot Be Hidden (Matthew 5:14) on this Thanksgiving Day, 2010. How much more important is it for the inhabitants of a City on a Hill That Cannot Be Hidden to sow and reap good fruits for the time of Harvest given the Savior’s admonition that By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them (Matthew 7:20)?
The Puritan Pilgrims of the 1600s whom we celebrate at Thanksgiving viewed themselves as building this City to be the Light of the World. William Bradford, who traveled on the Mayflower in 1620 and eventually became governor of the Plymouth Colony, explicitly noted the hand of Providence in their journey. By 1641, approximately 21,000 Puritans had emigrated to New England to participate in this endeavor. The Puritans’ Calvinism turned out to be good for a capitalist economy in a brave new world where a lack of ancient social barriers (family name, land ownership, social class) combined fortuitously with a belief in being Elect to unlock individual productivity and potential, which coalesced in a general unprecedented prosperity. In this, history reveals the hand of Providence (independent of the correctness of such Calvinist doctrine) in their experiment as the capacity for this continued prosperity was bestowed on posterity.
In other ways, however, the Pilgrims failed as the Light of the World and their society has reaped an unfortunate Harvest of Infamy that has always tarnished their experiment for reflective students of history. Defining morality in terms of sexual purity and detailed adherence to religious observances, although certainly part of the equation, was not enough to make their society godly in the face of atrocities perpetrated against the land’s native populations. Justifying the massacres, slavery and abuses by reference to predestination of Christian superiority only worsened their reputation, saddling their posterity with a mindset tolerating such reasoning, as did their practice of legislating their religious beliefs and enforcing them generally.
Aware of this history, we can avoid the temptations and mistakes of the Puritans as we continue to build a City on a Hill That Cannot Be Hidden — to establish Zion, to frame the project in Mormon terms. Sowing our Latter-day Saint faith, we can reap a Harvest of Good Report as enjoined by the Lord, plentiful enough to strengthen and uplift entire diverse communities while truly valuing and promoting the pluralism that the Church has recently highlighted as “indissociable from a democratic society, which has been dearly won over the centuries”. Let us press on in building this City of Zion, and in doing so, let us contemplate the following remarks about our own self governance in such a society:
But I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier.
“We must always consider,” he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill – the eyes of all people are upon us.”
Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us – and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill – constructed and inhabited by men [and women] aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities. . . .
We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less awesome than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within.
History will not judge our endeavors – and a government cannot be selected – merely on the basis of color or creed or even party affiliation. Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these.
For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us – recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state – our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:
First, were we truly men [and women] of courage – with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies – and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one’s associates – the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?
Secondly, were we truly men [and women] of judgment – with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past – of our own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others – with enough wisdom to know that we did not know, and enough candor to admit it?
Third, were we truly men [and women] of integrity – men [and women] who never ran out on either the principles in which they believed or the people who believed in them – men [and women] who believed in us – men [and women] whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?
Finally, were we truly men [and women] of dedication – with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and compromised by no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest. (“Address of President-Elect John F. Kennedy Delivered to a Joint Convention of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts”)
Thanksgiving Day should be a time for us to reflect on what we are doing individually to contribute to the building of a City on a Hill That Cannot Be Hidden. What role will we play in this Zion? How will History (and Providence) judge our efforts in this project, in the Grand Enterprise of Mormonism?
From M. Miles
The making of a Turducken. It looks like gross in the making, but it sews up pretty and tastes really good. Also, every year we hollow out Indian corn, gourds and pumpkins, insert engine rockets and launch them. We tried a pumpkin one year, but it flew sideways and almost hit all the kids.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
From Brad Kramer
Thanksgiving is, for a number of reasons (not the least of which is my love of delicious food) my absolute favorite holiday of the year. It brings out the very best in me, and I wish all a day of blissful relaxation and unfettered culinary pleasure.
Except DKL. I hope he chokes on his pumpkin pie.
I’ve never been too sentimental about Thanksgiving. It always seemed a great time to eat and be with family. But it was never a favorite holiday—a good excuse to overeat. Two years ago, however, I was in Vienna for a few months without my family. At Thanksgiving it was just an ordinary day at the UN, where I was doing work for my sabbatical. At the cafeteria that day, they served a ‘Thanksgiving’ dinner. I took my meal on a tray to an area I often sat in. I put my tray down on a long table with people I did not know.
I looked down at my turkey and mashed potatoes and thought about my family far away. Here I was, alone, at a table with strangers. I ate quickly and teary-eyed. I’ve made up my mind to really look Thanksgiving with new eyes. Like scrooge learned of Christmas, I will keep Thanksgiving in my heart. The lessons of that day will not soon be forgotten.
From Kristine Haglund
From my November Homily, a talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting around this time in 2004 (full text here)
“God made Sun and Moon to distinguish seasons, and day, and night, and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons: But God hath made no decree to distinguish the seasons of his mercies; In paradise, the fruits were ripe the first minute, and in heaven it is alwaies Autumne, his mercies are ever in their maturity. We ask panem quotidianum, our daily bread, and God never sayes you should have come yesterday, he never sayes you must again to morrow, but to day if you will heare his voice, to day he will heare you. If some King of the earth have so large an extent of Dominon, in North, and South, as that he hath Winter and Summer together in his dominions, much more hath God mercy and judgment together: He brought light out of darknesse, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy Summer out of Winter, though thou have no Spring; though in the wayes of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintred and frozen, clouded and eclypsed, damped and benummed, smothered and stupified till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadowes, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries. All occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.” –John Donne
Vaughan Williams: Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge, Psalm 90, Anglican Book of Common Prayer (verses 8, 11-12, 15-16 omitted); verse adaptation by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Lord, Thou hast been our refuge, from one generation to another.
O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast
And our eternal home.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world
were made, Thou art God from everlasting to everlasting, and world without
Thou turnest man to destruction; again Thou sayest, Come again ye children
For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday, seeing that is past
as a watch in the night.
As soon as Thou scatterest them they are even as a sleep; and fade away
suddenly like the grass.
In the morning it is green and groweth up; but in the evening it is cut
down, dried up, and withered.
For we consume away in Thy displeasure, and are afraid at Thy wrathful
For when Thou art angry all our days are gone: we bring our years to an end
as a tale that is told.
The years of our age are threescore years and ten, and though men be so
strong that they come to fourscore years, yet is their strength but labour
and sorrow; so passeth it away and we are gone.
Turn thee again, O Lord, at the last; be gracious unto Thy servants
O satisfy us with Thy mercy and that soon: so shall we rejoice and be glad
all the days of our life.
And the glorious majesty of the Lord be upon us; prosper Thou the work of
our hands, O prosper Thou our handiwork.
From M. Norbert Kilmer
A transcript of a conversation between my Finnish wife and me before our first Thanksgiving together, living in a small flat in central London:
Norbert: We should celebrate Thanksgiving.
Wife: OK. So what do we do on Thanksgiving?
Norbert: Well, we eat turkey. But we don’t have an oven, so we’ll have to think about what to eat. But the idea is to have a feast.
Wife: Right. So we eat a lot of food, maybe a turkey. What else?
Norbert: Well, that’s about it. The holiday is about making the food and eating it, and then hanging around watching TV, usually football.
Wife: So Americans have a holiday which revolves around eating too much and watching TV?
Norbert: We do say how thankful we are for everything we have.
Wife: Oh, that’s nice.
From J. Stapley
From Kevin Barney
And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenance . . . the fullness of the earth is yours. [D&C 59:15–16]
From Natalie B.
My greatest cooking success on Thanksgiving came by accident. I was making pumpkin bread, and used a 29 oz can of pumpkin. My friends loved it, and tried to replicate it later in the week. But they couldn’t get theirs to taste like mine. On checking the recipe again, it turns out I had doubled the pumpkin by mistake.
From Rebecca J.
I gave birth to my lastborn the night before Thanksgiving and we had to cancel our dinner guests’ invitations. Fortunately, being Indian, they weren’t terribly inconvenienced by not having a Thanksgiving meal. (I’m talking Indians from India, not Native Americans, or else that might have been offensive. Heck, a dinner invitation in the first place might have been offensive. Did I mention my husband is 1/8 Cherokee and he always cooks Thanksgiving dinner? Fun fact.) The following year, my daughter’s first birthday fell on Thanksgiving, and I woke her up from her nap, brought her downstairs to the kitchen to eat her first turkey dinner, and she promptly threw up on the linoleum. God bless us, every one! Oh, wait, that’s Christmas.
From Karen H.
I love Thanksgiving because it is a holiday that almost every American celebrates no matter what their religious or ethnic background. Even if Americans are defined by our differences and divided by race, class, politics, and sports rivalries, we can unite in a common love of feasting and gratitude (and pie). God bless America, and Happy Thanksgiving to our BCC readers.
Here’s a favorite recipe from allrecipes.com:
Cranberry Sauce Extraordinaire
1 c. water
1 c. white sugar
1 12 oz pkg fresh cranberries
1 orange, peeled and pureed
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 pear peeled, cored, and diced
1 c. chopped dried mixed fruit
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
In a medium saucepan, boil water and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
From Cynthia L.
This Sunday we arrived late to church. A rough week had spilled into Sunday morning, and I was in as foul a mood as I can ever remember being upon arriving at church. Only one hymn could coat such a prickly mood, and the choir was singing it: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. As I’ve hummed the words over and over again the past few days, at some point it occurred to me that it was an odd choice for a Thanskgiving theme Sacrament Meeting. Why not one of many other lovely selections of the season, also dear to my heart, like Simple Gifts or Come Ye Thankful People? But this song has changed Thanksgiving for me this year. I’m not thinking as much about food, shelter, or even family, though I am blessed in all. This Thanksgiving, what I’m most thankful for is grace. And not just a grace that is passively waiting for me to partake, but that has sought me when a stranger. This year, I will raise my Ebenezer in the form of a centerpiece, a turkey, pies, and potatoes.
Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of God’s unchanging love.
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
From Russell Arben Fox
My favorite Thanksgiving hymn:
We Gather Together (Prayer of Thanksgiving)
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His name; He forgets not His own.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we are winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side; all glory be Thine!
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
(Text anonymous, 17th-century Dutch; trans. by Theodore Baker, 1851-1934)
My favorite Thanksgiving song:
Thanks a Lot
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the sun in the sky
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the clouds so high
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the whispering wind
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the birds in the spring
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the moonlit night
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the stars so bright
Thanks a lot
Thanks for wonder in me
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the way that I feel
Thanks for the animals
Thanks for the land
Thanks for the people everywhere
Thanks a lot
Thanks for all I’ve got
Thanks for all I’ve got
(Text and music by Raffi)
Bonus: My favorite Thanksgiving post
From Sunny Smart
When I was a child our family would have huge Thanksgiving gatherings. We would borrow tables and chairs from the church and line our giant family room from wall to wall. The kids were relegated to the kitchen to dine at the row of tables with attached yellow stools which my dad had bought from a Winchell’s Doughnuts some years before. Raising seven kids often called for a little ingenuity in the finance department and my parents’ frugality often showed in our furnishings and cars. But what we lacked in belongings was more than made up for in the warmth and humor that permeated our home.
Our feasts were the stuff of legends. More food than we knew what to do with. More people than we knew where to fit in our house. But somehow it worked. There were last minute invites to families with nowhere to go, friends who sometimes showed up without warning because they simply knew they would be welcomed, and at times we all yearn for a place of welcome. Year after year we gathered with friends who had become family, whose lives had been intertwined with my parents’ through the sharing of heartaches, joys, losses, and gains. These were the people we knew as “Aunt” and “Uncle” though there was no blood relation at all. This was the fellowship of family that came to baptisms, farewells, weddings, and funerals and held our hands as we rejoiced and sorrowed. This was a hallowed community of kinship bound by the partaking of one another’s lives in the most sacred and intimate of times.
And here we gathered each year around tables laden with an abundance of food, surrounded by an abundance of love, taking in the nourishment of body and soul that would sustain us in the coming months. It was a time to renew and restore, to thank and to bless. We gathered to show our gratitude for the richness of our friendships and to fasten ourselves more deeply into one another’s lives, that we might be ever ready to lift and support, rally and cheer.
These years later I am making Thanksgiving preparations for a family of my own. My parents are gone now and the gatherings dwindled years ago. This year we have chosen to gather as just our little band, two parents and four noisy, energetic, and beautiful children. I am thankful for the time to celebrate so intimately this year, yet what hasn’t gone unnoticed were the invites, even the day before Thanksgiving, from dear friends we have gathered in our short years of marriage. These are friends we hold as close and sacred as any family. Friends who have born our burdens and celebrated our triumphs and whom we hope have felt the same from us. This year as I am missing my parents more keenly than I have in a long time, I am so very thankful for their legacy of creating a community of family wherever they were. I am feeling that blessing in my life this year and this Thanksgiving I will celebrate the abundance of loving friends who have become my family in the loveliest of ways.
From Aaron R.
I love Thanksgiving. Ever since that first meal as a missionary (cooked by some wonderful Senior couples) I was hooked. Good food & gratitude seem aptly suited. Consequently I decided that I would continue that tradition as best I could for my family eventhough I am not a great cook and my wife thinks it is slightly eccentric. We bought some food, researched some Thanksgiving recipes, were surprised by the amount of syrup you guys used, and went forward. It was pretty good. Not quite the standard of those senior couples who cooked my first Thanksgiving meal but we were happy with it. So on this day, I want to express my gratitude for a truly inspiring American tradition.
 Unfortunately Turkeys are not easy to find at this time of year in the UK
at the last minute (at least not at my local Tesco) and so we had to make do
with a Chicken.
From Aaron B.
Thanksgiving is here
Japanese poetic form
Best conveys my thoughts
I am thankful for
So many things in my life
Best of all, good food!
Just the other day
My wife made a kick-ass dish:
Recipe is here
You really ought to prepare
This for tomorrow:
Preheat oven to
Clean, cut fennel bulbs
cut them horizontally
1/3 inch slices.
Take the fennel fronds
chop them to make 2 teaspoons;
Then set them aside.
Spray with olive oil
bottom of glass baking dish:
(For size, see the link).
Lay fennel slices
in the dish, touching bottom
so they roast, not steam.
Add salt and pepper
Then sprinkle with Parmesan,
Drizzle olive oil.
Transfer fennel to
Platter, then just sprinkle on
the chopped fennel fronds.
I swear to you all
This is the best tasting side
Dish you’ll ever eat.
Sure beats cranberries.
And that stuffing no one likes
With your sliced turkey.
From Scott B.
The Armpit of All Turkey Bowls
(Originally posted last November on my solo blog)
I had the temerity to raise my hand in Elders Quorum last Sunday and ask if anyone was interested in putting together a Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving Day, and so was naturally put in charge of the event. I forgot about this responsibility almost as soon as it was given to me (in keeping with my General Theory of Elders Quorum Responsibility Forgetfulness), and didn’t give it another thought until Tuesday afternoon when I got an email from someone in the EQ asking about the game and if anyone was planning on playing. Repenting of my sloth, I drafted a note about the game and sent it to the EQ email list.
By the time the game was supposed to start–yesterday morning at 8:30am–it was clear that the number of hands who had expressed interest in playing was a gross overstatement of the number of people who were actually willing to show up and toss around the pigskin. We waited 30 minutes or so past the scheduled starting time, and finally managed to scrounge up 6 players, myself included. We all stretched out, the hardcore footballers put on their cleats, and we staked out a shortened field since our numbers were so few, and no one really wanted to run much anyway.
Thus went the Harbor Hills Ward Elders Quorum Turkey Bowl 2009: The Armpit of All Turkey Bowls:
My quarterback drops back to pass, I fake left, then cut right, and QB hits me in stride for a perfect touchdown pass…yeah, not really. What actually happened is my whole “cut right” thang didn’t go to swell, as my running shoes gave way on the dew-soaked grass and I bit the turf. The ball flew right into the hands of the guy defending me, who returned it for an easy touchdown. We get the ball back immediately, with our pride stung but still intact.
Our QB, having learned not to trust me, throws to the other guy this time, who makes a great snag on a slightly overthrown ball. After hauling in the pass, his momentum causes him to lose balance, and a slight push from his defender (“touch” football) sends him to the ground, landing on his shoulder and tearing a ligament. The following 15 minutes cannot be described here, because they were rated R for mild profanity and crude humor at a wounded man’s expense. With the injured player needing a ride to the hospital, we lose two players, and with only four remaining, decide to call it a day.
Time: 4 minutes
Season-Ending Injuries: 1
Injury-Induced F-Bombs: 8 (approx.)
If you can top that for sheer suckitude, I salute you, and encourage you to leave your story.
From Tracy M.
Today my children will be zipping down a friend’s mountain on luge-like sledding trails, while I share cooking duties in a warm steamy kitchen with my dear friends who’ve gathered us into their homes and lives. The children will come in with rosy cheeks and frozen fingers, and there will be a pile of sodden snowy parkas in the mudroom, while we warm little hands with mugs of cocoa and giggles fill the house. We are baking more than a turkey with these time-honored rituals and feasting of thanks- we are sharing our lives, creating a communion of souls that does as much to bind us as a people and family as the sacred ordinances of our holy houses.
I am grateful for hearts so immensely capable of love, and I am grateful for the hope of forgiveness and divinity found therein. I am grateful for the communities we have built, both in tangible life, and here at By Common Consent- because both enrich my life in uncountable and entirely real ways.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our BCC readers. Blessings upon you and yours today.
“God bless English colonists in the Americas.”
From Matt Page