Area residents offer insight into what Thanksgiving means to them

by Shawn Nowlin

Since the 1600, people have been celebrating Thanksgiving in America. This week, many Virginians will endure traffic jams and flight delays to spend time with friends and family members. Some locals, like Roanoke County resident Ciani Wingfield, insists that every dish be either homemade or organic. Others like Salem native John Childress don’t mind having food catered. The average Thanksgiving dinner costs approximately $65, according to a recent survey conducted by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

“Food is such a central part of the holiday season. But more than 860,000 Virginians are food-insecure, which means that at some point during the year they struggle to put enough nutritious food on the table for their families,” said Eddie Oliver, executive director of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks. “I encourage people to think of the less fortunate during the holidays. Not everyone gets to enjoy a warm meal with family and friends.”

My favorite holiday dish is mashed potatoes with gravy. Nothing beats that!! I grew up with real mashed potatoes, not instant or anything like that. I don’t mind cooking, to me it’s fun. My mother always made giblet gravy and tiny green peas. I am thankful for good health and the opportunity to spend quality time with family,” said John B. reflecting on what Thanksgiving means to him.

Another respondent, Valarie H., said: “Any ‘real’ cooking you do, in my opinion, takes time. The more time spent, the more love goes in. It’s about the prep work. In my family, the men like to gather, talk and watch football. We used to all gather at my grandmother’s house for the feast. We all have gotten older but some things never change.”

“Thanksgiving is about being thankful to be surrounded by love whether it be from family, friends or complete strangers. Just being in a community of fellowship. This time of year can be so lonely. Any time spent spreading love to others is rewarding and a good way to celebrate the holiday,” she added.
Most people, like John and Valarie understand Thanksgiving as being about food, fun and most of all family and friends. However doing something for someone else less fortunate can be the most gratifying way to celebrate the holidays.