Here in Carpenter Country, we’re numbers people. So, after downloading the government chart on Tom Turkey’s preparation (the one that recommends roasting the bird at 325 degrees until the internal temperature is a safe 180ºF), we went in search of Thanksgiving statistics.
The first number we discovered finished off our half-baked ideas about the history of Thanksgiving. We found that at least three other Thanksgivings were celebrated before Miles Standish and the Plymouth colonists enjoyed their banquet in 1621.
One took place in what is now the Texas Panhandle in May of 1541. That’s when Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and 1,500 explorers gave thanks for their return from Mexico City where they’d gone in search of gold.
Another happened on June 30, 1564, when 300 French Huguenot colonists celebrated their good fortune in a settlement near Jacksonville, Florida.
And in the spring of 1610, 430 settlers who survived a Jamestown, Virginia winter famine enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast when English supply ships arrived with food.
Want more numbers? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers raised 270 million turkeys in 2002, and were expected to produce 572 million pounds of cranberries. In 2001, sweet potato production was 1.4 billion pounds and pumpkins weighed in at 831 million pounds.
To round out our figures (so to speak), tons of that delicious fare will be shipped to, and cooked for, the hundreds of thousands of military personnel serving our country both here and overseas.
We’d have even more Thanksgiving blessings to count if all of them were home.