Thanksgiving Birthdays!

By: Rebecca Frager

November has always been my favorite month.  I love how the month is dedicated to celebrating thankfulness for every single day.  I love the smells of apple cider and cinnamon.  I love the smell of wassail and my homemade “witches’ brew” – a concoction of Tang, Nestea, lemonade and various spices.  It smells like a cup of November when you make it.  I love the smell of pumpkin pies and all the ways I can use turkey for leftovers. My favorite poem, is an obscure gem by Alice Crowell Hoffman called “November’s Gift.”

November is a lady in a plain grey coat, 
That is very closely buttoned up around her throat. 
And after she’s been walking all around the town, 
She reaches in her pocket deep, deep down, 
And then pulls out a present, and with laughter gay
Says to everybody here’s Thanksgiving Day! 

And even though I am not fond of winter, I do love the grey days of November, the smell of the crispy air, and the sound of falling leaves.  I love being able to look up and finally see Orion in the night sky as I begin counting the days toward warmer weather.  November is my favorite month, because it is my birthday month and I have so much to be thankful for.

Today is my birthday – Nov. 29.   But I didn’t always know that.  In fact, for the longest time, at least until I was 12, I thought my birthday was on Thanksgiving.  I was in sixth grade, and the teacher was going around the room asking each of us when our birthday was.  When she got to me, I said,“Thanksgiving.”  She gave me a quizzical look and said, “Becky, it can’t always be on Thanksgiving because the date changes each year.”  I stuck by my story,“My birthday is always on Thanksgiving,” I told her. 

At the dinner table that evening, I was incredulous as I told my father my teacher didn’t believe me when I told her my birthday was on Thanksgiving.  My father gave me a bemused look and said, “It isn’t.  You were born on Nov. 29.”  He explained that we used Thanksgiving “because your birthday is close to the holiday, the family gets together, and it is a fun way to celebrate all the November birthdays.”  I was really upset!  I had always thought that my Uncle Walter and I shared the same birthday.  I recently discovered that his birthday is on the 24th and can actually fall on Thanksgiving.  “In fact,” my father said,“your birthday never falls on Thanksgiving. It can fall on the day after Thanksgiving once in a while, but never on Thanksgiving.”  WHAT??!!  Now I was more than upset.  I had always loved going to Grandma’s house on Thanksgiving Day, knowing my uncle and I would share a cake with both our names on it. I would get cards and birthday gifts.  Thanksgiving was my day! But now, I learned, it had never been my day at all.  

Here’s the funny thing.  Remember the poem “Monday’s Child”?  It goes like this:

Monday’s child is fair of face;
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe;
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving;
Saturday’s child works hard for a living;
But the child born on the Sabbath day is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

I knew that poem from a very young age.  I knew I was the loving and giving child, because my mom told me I was born on a Friday. I didn’t realize that Thanksgiving fell on the fourth Thursday of the month until that fateful day.  In fact,in 1957, the year I was born, Thanksgiving was on Nov. 28.  I was born the next day – the closest I could ever be to sharing Thanksgiving with my birthday.  I’ve only been that close for nine more times so far. Next Thanksgiving will once again fall on the 28th, so that will make it 10 times in my 61 years.   

Just so you know, I have never let it go. I won’t. When someone asks me when my birthday is, I still say, “Thanksgiving.”  It’s fun to watch the curious look come over their face when they realize I’m joking.  But in all seriousness, I’m not joking. Thanksgiving will always be my day because I have so much to be thankful for – always have, always will.

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