By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
The American Benevolent Society (ABS) hosted its annual Thanksgiving Day luncheon at Christ Church Anglican-Episcopal Parish in Mexico City’s Colonia Lomas de Chapultepec, on Thursday, Nov 22, with turkey, dressing and all the trimmings.
Nearly 100 people attended the lavish, sit-down feast, which began with an assortment of cream cheese and jalapeno chile jam and coriander mousse canapés and ended with sumptuous homemade pumpkin pie topped with fresh whipped cream,all accompanied with a selection of premium red and white wines.
But as ABS executive director Barbara Franco pointed out in her welcome speech, for the majority of the people in attendance, the celebration was not about the food, but rather about “coming together to share a sense of community.”
“Nearly everyone here oversees or is a part of a community service or outreach project that helps others,” Franco said.
“Each and every one of you is like a thread in a beautiful tapestry of human kindness, and it is wonderful that we can all share in this special day of giving thanks for all the blessings we have been given.”
Franco went on to say that unlike most holidays, which commemorate war victories or political heroes, Thanksgiving “is a very special time for U.S. citizens to look back and give thanks for all they have received, and it is also a time for reaching out and broadening relations.”
“It is about family, and our extended families, that often embark people from around the globe,” she added.
Newly arrived Christ Church Anglican-Episcopal Parish Rector Matt Seddon offered a blessing, while ABS board member and Salvation Army advisory board member Pedro de Koster read the “Five Grains of Corn” story, a moving account of how, during their first winter, the early American pilgrims were reduced to rations of just five kernels of grain before they were rescued by the bountiful generosity of the native Americans.
Consequently, it has become an ABS Thanksgiving tradition to place five grains of corn beside the plates of each guest.
The ABS has hosted annual Thanksgiving feasts for the U.S. community in Mexico since shortly after its founding in 1868.
The tradition of a Thanksgiving feast purportedly began in New England in 1621, when the pilgrims at Plymouth were rescued from starvation by the indigenous people of the region, who shared their food and knowledge of planting with the European settlers.
In 1817, the state of New York adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual institution, and by the middle of the 19th century, other northern states had adopted the custom.
Thanksgiving Day was first celebrated as a national U.S. holiday in 1863, in accordance with the proclamation issued by then-President Abraham Lincoln as a gesture of reconciliation after the American Civil War.
Since then, each U.S. president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.