I always enjoy looking at old photographs or listening to stories from the past – narrated by those who’ve experienced them first hand. This example comes from my in-laws – who once told how growing up they would walk around to neighboring houses on Thanksgiving Day, ring the doorbell and ask “Anything for Thanksgiving?”
When they first told me this story, I thought perhaps they were confusing it with Halloween – where back in the late 1940’s the act of yelling “trick-or-treat” became a customary and popular tradition on October 31st.
I mean what would people give you if asked “Anything for Thanksgiving?” A turkey leg? A can of cranberry sauce? Maybe a couple of dinner rolls? But my father-in-law, a master detective online, found they weren’t the only ones partaking in what was once known as “Ragamuffin Day.”
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a “ragamuffin” is a child who is dressed in rags and is usually dirty and poor. It seems on Ragamuffin Day, children would dress themselves to look like beggars before going around and asking neighbors “Anything for Thanksgiving?” Sacks and bags were then filled with pennies, apples or a piece of candy – guess my assumptions were incorrect.
But not everyone looked favorably upon Ragamuffin Day. In 1937, groups such as the Madison Square Boys Club organized Thanksgiving parades in an effort “to discourage the Thanksgiving ragamuffins” sporting the slogan “American boys do not beg.”
That’s taking things a little too literally, don’t you think? In retrospect, when you look at some of the things the adolescents of today are entangled in, suddenly “begging” for treats doesn’t really seem all that bad.
But I digress. The recanting of past experiences from parents and grandparents is something I truly cherish. To understand how different the circumstances of life were, and yet how similar the behaviors of humanity still are serves to unite generations. I hope we all take the time to absorb as much personal history as we can from those who have come before us. It grounds us, humbles us and even brings a chuckle when we think about dressing like beggars to ask “Anything for Thanksgiving?”
Thomas Fuller once said, “Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart.”