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Americans Express Gratitude on Thanksgiving Holiday

Turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal

Turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal

Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day each year on the fourth Thursday in November. It is a time when families and friends gather to count their blessings. The idea began in the 1600s when Pilgrims came to North America from England to start a new life. After their annual harvest, they gave thanks and held a feast. Today, many Americans follow that tradition.

In Hobe Sound, Florida, Jayne and Kirk Harness prepare food at their home for a Thanksgiving feast. Jayne makes gravy from a family recipe.

"That was something my mom always did. It was a Thanksgiving tradition in our house," she explained.

Her daughter, Kaileen, says it is fun cooking a meal. She especially likes pumpkin pie and says "every Thanksgiving table should have one."

Turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. A tradition in some households is removing the breast bone to make a wish.

"And one person takes one side, the other person takes the other side and you pull it apart," explained Jayne Harness. "When you do you make a wish. And whoever ends up with this little flat thing at the top is the one whose wish is granted."

Across the street, the Bachmans are also serving a Thanksgiving feast. Lorene Bachman got up early in the morning to begin preparing the food.

"The other main ingredient in a Thanksgiving dinner is the cranberries," she said. "And we're going to boil them for five minutes, just until the skin pops, and then we're going to chill it, and that's going to be our cranberry sauce."

Lorene picks fresh herbs from her vegetable garden to put in some dishes. Her husband, Bud Bachman, cuts open a coconut from a palm tree in their yard. Lorene grates the sweet meat. Coconut cake is a family tradition.

"I am going to put it all over the cake and then put the frosting on," said Lorene.

As they sit down to eat, both the Bachman and Harness families pray and give thanks. Kirk and Jayne Harness say they are grateful to be together on this special day.

"Thanksgiving to me is being with family, thinking of all the things I've been blessed with in my life," Kirk said.

"We're fortunate enough to be together and have people," added Jayne. "You know some people don't have anyone."

Lorene and Bud Bachman share their Thanksgiving meal with Lorene's sister and brother-in-law Bige Combs. He reflects on what he is thankful for.

"And I think of my children, and my grandchildren, and the way I've been blessed and the way God has looked after me in so many ways," Bud said.

"I am also thankful for my family and friends," added Lorene. "And I have two beautiful daughters who I am thankful that are successful and healthy. One's in Hawaii. One's in Washington, D.C. Neither of them made it home for Thanksgiving."

Neighbor Kirk Harness says Thanksgiving also makes him appreciate the freedom he has in the United States.

"All the liberties, all the freedoms, all the things that we have started with the Pilgrims. That's why they came here to get all their freedoms," he said.

These families say another good thing about Thanksgiving is that there are plenty of leftovers to enjoy later.