Recapture the joy of Thanksgiving with your family in 2021.

With Halloween now over, next up is Thanksgiving. And that means family, food, and fun. But aside from getting your turkey on, have you ever stepped back to reflect on the first Thanksgiving and why we celebrate the way we do? There is quite a bit of history when it comes to Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving was a time of sharing the bounty of the first successful harvest with everyone. But it was also a time rife with tension and counter interests. Settlers had arrived in a land that they claimed as their own, despite the Indigenous populations calling the land home for centuries prior. There can be no dispute that the trajectory of the future was forever changed for the Indigenous people.

Perhaps the first Thanksgiving can be a reminder to us this year that we can do better. We can try something different and come together to buoy the well-being of everyone.

1. Try a Thanksgiving potluck feast and share it with family and friends.

During Thanksgiving 2020, we were all still pretty isolated and took great caution when celebrating with our family members and friends. But now that the number of vaccinated Americans is on the rise and COVID-related restrictions have begun to lift, it is time to get back out and celebrate with those we love and are thankful for. So whether it’s a potluck at your house, a feast you prepare for others, or a meal you make for a family in need, spread the joy and the food with others this year, and ask others to contribute too.

2. Remember the benefits of community, relationships, and family togetherness.

There is no price tag that can be placed on time spent building relationships with our family, friends, and even those in our communities. And as humans, we were built to thrive through community. Having a strong support network from those we love and those in our community is critical to our emotional and physical health. So this Thanksgiving 2021, remember the spirit of community and embed that into your holiday planning. Reflect on the 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists and Native Americans and discuss how they would have celebrated the day together. How can we bridge the gap between our community and others?

3. Consider all people as family members or beloved friends.

Inviting everyone under the sun to your Thanksgiving table isn’t possible, of course. Instead, take some time while sharing your Thanksgiving meal with your loved ones to discuss how you can work harder to see all people as family members or beloved friends. Think of how you can view everyone equally and recognize that everyone has something good to contribute to this amazing world of ours. And if that feels challenging, brainstorm things you can do to give back to your community in the coming year. Then, for Thanksgiving 2022, you can reflect on all the amazing things you did and all the new memories you are thankful for.

4. Make a traditional Thanksgiving meal such as what was consumed at the first Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, there is little historical documentation remaining to outline the foods that were enjoyed at the first Thanksgiving. But we can assume the meal didn’t consist of a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, or green bean casserole. Instead, the first Thanksgiving meal probably consisted of fresh game, assorted wildfowl of which might have included a turkey, fish such as cod or bass, and corn that was made into cornbread or porridge. Turkeys didn’t become a Thanksgiving staple until 1863.

So this year, in addition to your traditional turkey, try some recipes that reflect that original Thanksgiving meal. Here are three recipe suggestions to help you get started.

Cornmeal Porridge

Making porridge together could become a new family tradition and one that your kids will love, and thankfully, there are a lot of porridge recipes out there to try. We like this Jamaican porridge recipe, and if that doesn’t do it for you, consider Tyler Florence’s corn porridge recipe.

Baked Cod

If you are looking to add some protein to your first Thanksgiving meal and want something tryptophan-free, try adding some fish to your meal. We’re particularly fond of this Perfect Ten Baked Cod recipe from allrecipes.com.

Sourdough Bread

We believe the pilgrims and Native Americans enjoyed bread, especially sourdough, which the pilgrims called “Cheat Bread.” Cornbread was made from hominy, whole kernels of dried field corn (aka maize), that were nixtamalized (a process where the corn is soaked, cooked in lime water, and then hulled). Today, you can make pilgrim bread from cornmeal, various types of flour, and about three hours of free time. We’re fond of this pilgrim bread recipe from food.com.

5. Offer food options for everyone.

Though we all have our Thanksgiving Day favorites, in the spirit of community and inclusiveness, be sure to have options available that everyone can enjoy. While turkey excites most meat eaters, vegetarians might need an additional protein source. There are also some foods that people with dentures or partial dentures should avoid. In particular, hard candies, candied pecans, marshmallows, nuts, chewy meats, popcorn, and cranberry sauce aren’t the best for denture-wearers. Ice cream, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, tender meats, pasta, green bean casserole, and roasted veggies such as carrots and broccoli are more denture-friendly options. And thankfully, these items often make the Thanksgiving Day menu anyway.

Add your East Norriton, Pennsylvania, dentist to your list of community members you are thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Speaking of the importance of community, the team at Cooley-Bentz Dental Associates are proud to help you develop plans to celebrate this Thanksgiving. And we want to make sure that if you are overdue for a dental cleaning or oral examination, you take time to request an appointment now.