We like to think of Thanksgiving as a national north star, always on the fourth Thursday in November and always with certain foods that remind us of the first Thanksgiving in 1621 by the Pilgrims.
Thing is, many assumptions about Thanksgiving are either debatable or untrue. For example, until the mid-19th century, it was observed on varying dates by each state. Though President Abraham Lincoln authorized a standard date in 1863, it wasn't recognized by Southern states until the Civil War ended. As for the menu, the bounty that fills our tables today certainly didn't exist in the 17th century when the Pilgrims arrived in New England. And though custom has placed the year at 1621, historians don't agree on the exact who, when and where of the first Thanksgiving.
The point is that Thanksgiving through the centuries has evolved. Practically, it also evolves for many of us as our personal lives change. It can one year be a stuffed-to-the-rafters affair and in another, celebrated with only a few family or friends.
With Thanksgiving a week away, here is a look at both ends of the spectrum, knowing that most of us fall somewhere in between. We hope this gives you ideas for any kind of day blessed by the opportunity to gather together.