I find it hard to believe that this is my sixth Thanksgiving since permanently relocating to Coastal Georgia and my third since becoming an American citizen. In that brief period, Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday.
According to taxcutters.com, pilgrims in 1621 had a three-day “festival of thanksgiving” to celebrate surviving plague, starvation, cold, scurvy, Indian attack and other “new world” obstacles. The feast included game birds, flint corn, venison, eels, shellfish and native vegetables.
President Abraham Lincoln, 242 years later, proclaimed the first “official” Thanksgiving — a national day of “thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Since then, it’s become one of America’s favorite holidays, a four-day weekend of friends and family without the Christmas-season hype, although the USA’s hyper-competitive retail market means earlier and earlier opening of stores before Black Friday, which sadly is starting to change this tradition.
Even though gift-giving and buying is not part of this holiday, expenses do mount. The IRS and other government tax authorities love this holiday, and looking at the facts below, you can understand why (again from taxcutters.com):
• According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, a 16-pound turkey costs, on average, $21.76. At an average 7.25 percent combined state and local sales tax, per www.taxfoundation.org, that equals $1.58 in tax. And that’s before adding in the sales tax for potatoes and the ingredients for stuffing, side items and pie.
• Taxes average 33 percent of the total cost of a bottle of wine, 44 percent of a case of beer, and even more for liquor.
• The American Petroleum Institute says taxes average 49.30 cents per gallon across the country. And Conde Nast Traveler says taxes on an average domestic plane ticket total $63.
• Hotel tax can be 18.3 percent on a room.
• Federal, state and local tax departments take about 36 percent, or a whopping $3.6 billion, in Thanksgiving taxes on the $10 billion we’ll spend on holiday gatherings (www.forbes.com).
I leave you with a quote from Ina Garten, American author, chef, Emmy-award winning host of “The Barefoot Contessa,” and — interestingly — a former White House nuclear-policy analyst during the Ford and Carter administrations: “I absolutely adore Thanksgiving. It’s the only holiday I insist on making myself.”
God bless America.
Email Francis at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.lesleyfrancispr.com.