Turkey ‘Apple’ got a pardon. President Barack Obama granted the pardon. Apple, a turkey, did not end up on White House dinner table. It lived on America’s Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day. Americans say it’s is about tradition and sharing. They agree that it is an attitude, not just a day. Family members far and near gather for a reunion at the house of an older relative. They give thanks together for the good things that they have. It is good to give thanks – to the One who has kept America, and they have been doing it ages. The day is a national public holiday even. Maybe Nigeria too should do the same. America’s Thanksgiving Day has a history.

Plymouth colonists had their first harvest on the soil of the New World in 1621. They thought it fitting to give thanks. Their governor announced a day of thanksgiving. He mentioned prayers as part of the activities. It was a three-day "thank you" festivity then. This first New England Thanksgiving tradition extended to the rest of the colonies. The first American president announced November 26 a day of Thanksgiving in 1789. President Lincoln set apart the last Thursday of November for all of America to observe the day. He had sighted the need to "beseech the interposition of the almighty had to heal the wounds of the nations and to restore it to full pleasure of calm, concord, serenity and unification." He also wanted Americans to give sincere thanks for the "blessing of fruitful fields and healthful skies." That, in 1863.

America’s Thanksgiving Day also has its traditional meals. They are for the dinner table. Turkey, corn, pumpkins and cranberry sauce are symbols which represent the first Thanksgiving. These symbols have their meanings. Now all of them can be found on the holiday’s decorations and greeting cards. America’s Thanksgiving Day has its as customs and activities as well. The day revolves around enormous and abundant meal, more often than not with Turkey as the attraction. A particular prayer of thanks comes before the meal in the majority of the families. Each family member talks about something he is very grateful for. It is an occasion for folks to generate customs and reminiscences that last a life span. And there are Thanksgiving Day games and crafts for kids, jokes, poems, thanksgiving songs and thanksgiving parade. There are Thanksgiving Day dinner recipes, Thanksgiving Day Gifts, Thanksgiving Day Decorations.

The occupant of the White House is not left out. He has his own set of Thanksgiving Day activities. The president hosts a ceremony on the eve of the holiday; it was where President Obama pardoned the 20-kilogram Apple. He and his family later took two turkeys to a local organization that helps feed and clothe those in need. There, the president said the gesture of giving is what is truly meant by the Thanksgiving holiday. And he granted pardons to men too, not just a turkey. At the special ceremony for that, he thanked members of the U.S. armed forces for their service, saying they make him proud to be commander-in-chief. All of these draw attention back to Nigeria. Yes, different religious groups in Nigeria have public holidays set aside for their religious festivities. The nation too celebrates Independence Day. In his 50th Independence Day Anniversary speech, President Goodluck Jonathan said, “it is with a deep sense of humility and gratitude to the Almighty” that he addressed the nation. Good. The president delivered his address with gratitude. Then he went on to list the hurdles the nation had overcome since 1960. Nigerians remember those well. They know of things that sent other nations toppling over that happened here, yet the nation stands.

No Nigerian will attribute that to human efforts. Like the president, Nigerians remember these things with ‘gratitude to the Almighty.’ Surely, he who thanks receives more. Humans know that. Since each religion in Nigeria links its festivity to a particular tradition or doctrine, can the nation set a day aside that will unite every Nigerian in offering thanks? After all, President Jonathan ended his speech saying, “May God Almighty bless you all! May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria! May be that day called Democracy Day may be a viable option. And before some officials see another opportunity to blow over 6 billion naira on a jamboree, it is good to point out that Americans are convinced that Thanksgiving Day is an attitude, not just a day. Ajibade, a Consultant Writer, lives in Abuja. [email protected]

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