On this Thanksgiving Day I am sadly reminded how few people seem to know the real reason we celebrate Thanksgiving.
It started in the mid 1980s, after a small show called Bosom Buddies went off the air. This quirky little show depicted two men in New York, down on their luck, masquerading as women to hide in an all female apartment complex. Through the assorted hijinks and hilarity, they discovered truths about women, about friendship, and about themselves. One of the stars on the show especially touched our nation with his wisdom and talent: Tom Hanks.
Thus it began one November that a family, grateful to Tom Hanks, invited him over for dinner. Tom graciously accepted, but word spread and the next year he was besieged by a dozen invitations. The year after that, hundreds. He couldn’t attend them all, so families began spreading the spirit of Tom Hanks to each other by giving each other turkeys with Tom Hank’s face on them. Being the perfect blend of white meat and dark meat, versatile yet satisfying, the turkey seemed like the perfect metaphor for Tom. Then as people ate the bird they felt that they were taking a little bit of Tom Hanks into them.
As the 80’s progressed, and Tom Hanks was in such groundbreaking features “Mazes and Monsters”, “Splash”, and “The Man With One Red Shoe”, his legend grew. And as often happens, legends fade into obscurity with the retelling to each generation. People kept many of the traditions, but lost touch with the meaning. Even the name – “Tom Hanks Giving Day” was shortened to just THanksGiving Day.
But I encourage you to return to the warm, generous, affable everyman roots of this day. Gather your family around, pop in a DVD of “Turner and Hooch” or “Joe Versus the Volcano”, and think deeply about Tom Hanks as you nibble a juicy drumstick.