The Ghosts of Thanksgiving, Mostly Past by Karen Coney Coplin

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade will return to the streets of Manhattan at 9 a.m. Thursday, November 25. Marching bands that were unable to perform live during 2020 will make their appearance this year. Santa Claus, riding in the last parade float, will arrive in a brand new sleigh.

What does this parade have to do with life in Naples? This event has been an annual tradition since 1924, only “paused” during the war years of 1942-1944, and, owing to pandemic precautions, was strictly “made for TV” last year.

It’s safe to say that nearly all of us reading this column have had this parade as a backdrop to the Thanksgiving holiday for our entire lives. And, maybe in part due to the popularity of this parade, many locals look fondly upon the vibrant parade traditions here in town. We can enjoy parades for the 4th of July, to kick off Swamp Buggy season, and for the Christmas holiday traditions.

Of course, many of us attend the parades locally, and still others travel to New York to experience the Thanksgiving Day parade in person. Most of us recall this 95 year old event from past TV airings. And, I don’t think I’m alone in saying I feel comforted when this parade returns later this month to broadcast TV plus other streaming options.

I spoke to a friend who shared the following comment: “My constant Thanksgiving Day memory is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I feel all the traditions of the Thanksgiving holiday, especially the enduring aspect of dedicating a holiday to giving thanks for all we have and hold dear.”

One of my holiday memories involving this parade is it as a backdrop for my mother’s “day of” preparations for Thanksgiving dinner which she always served at 4 p.m. She would break from some of the action in the kitchen to watch certain performances and never missed Santa’s appearance!

And, I remember Thanksgiving Eve, too, as she started her holiday baking that evening. How good our home smelled as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, vanilla, and other aromas filled the air with anticipation of the great feast ahead.

I don’t know about you, but all this talk of wonderful spices has made me hungry! My Thanksgiving table will have all the staples, and, with one daughter a vegetarian, I’ll include a variety of side dishes and ultimately decide upon her main course which varies from year to year.

Whether homespun or catered; ordering in or dining out, there is always a cornucopia of ideas and selections to create a festive table for Thanksgiving celebrations.

There was a time when very few restaurants were open on this holiday and now many offer traditional Thanksgiving fare as well as those seeking something off the beaten path.

Wherever you find a seat at the Thanksgiving table this year, know that it can be the perfect spot to express gratitude and open your heart to the abundance of the season. Not just for the food before you. For the people around you or those that will always be in your heart.

To help those who may be experiencing crisis, grieving, isolation and uncertainty this Thanksgiving, please consider a donation to any area food bank. Here are two (tax deductible) suggestions:

Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida,
3940 Prospect Ave. Ste. 101, Naples FL 34104 or call
239.334.7007 or visit

St. Matthew’s House, 2601 Airport Rd. S. Naples, FL
34112, 239.774,0500, press 4 or visit st

Email Karen with your favorite way to express gratitude at Thanksgiving or anytime: follow her on Instagram for more vignettes about life in Naples @naplesbythenumbers

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