Winnie Griggs Celebrates Thanksgiving 19th Century Style

Griggs Riders and readers, please welcome author Winnie Griggs to the convertible.

Last year at about this time, my editor invited me to write a novella for inclusion in a special 2-in-1 Thanksgiving themed book to be released by Love Inspired Historical. I had never written a novella before, but was very excited to be offered the opportunity to try something new. And, since I’d just wrapped up a set of three connected books, I immediately decided I wanted to feature one of the secondary characters who’d appeared in all of these books. Griff Lassiter had quietly wormed his way into my heart to the extent that I knew I HAD to tell his story.

But first I had to do some research. How did Americans celebrate Thanksgiving in 1894? For that matter, was it even observed as a special day back then? And if it was observed, was it celebrated on the same day across the country or did each community/town/state decide when to celebrate?

To my surprise (relief!), I discovered that, while our nineteenth century ancestors did not have the benefit of watching the Macy’s parade or football games, by the time of the Civil war the event was otherwise celebrated very much as it is today. Family and friends gathered together for meals and fellowship. Folks took time to focus on their blessings and give thanks for the good things in their lives. Even the menu was similar – many served turkey with stuffing, lots of seasonal vegetables, fresh baked breads and pies (pumpkin being the most popular).

That certainly made my life easier. A little more research about the foods of the region and period and I was set to describe the Thanksgiving feast my characters would enjoy at the close of my book!

The title of my story is “Home For Thanksgiving” and it is part of the ONCE UPON A THANKSGIVING anthology. Below is a blurb:

All that stands between Ruby Anne Tuggle and a fresh start is an escort to Tyler, Texas. Rancher Griff Lassiter is too kind to refuse, but too wary of being hurt again to offer anything but protection on the journey.

Then a fever forces an unexpected detour and a chance to find the place they both belong…

So tell me, do you have favorite Thanksgiving traditions in your family you’d be willing to share? If so I’d love to hear about them. And as an added incentive, I’m giving away a copy of ONCE UPON A THANKSGIVING to one lucky commenter today!

Visit Winnie’s web site.

About Kathleen Eagle

Kathleen Eagle is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty novels.
This entry was posted in giveaway, Love Inspired, Thanksgiving and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Winnie Griggs Celebrates Thanksgiving 19th Century Style

  1. Keri Ford says:

    Hey Winnie! love the sound of the book–there’s food involved so I am SO THERE!

    traditions. hm, I guess that we all pile up at grandma’s house for the day. we’re starting to really overgrown the space, but we still manage to squeeze everyone in there!

  2. CrystalGB says:

    Hi Winnie. Love the cover to your book. Our family gathers at my parents for Thanksgiving. We love sharing a great meal and hanging out with everyone.

  3. Helen Brenna says:

    Hi Winnie and welcome to the convertible! My favorite Thanksgiving tradition has become hosting it. Years and years ago, the task seemed overwhelming. Later, I started taking it for granted. I’m now appreciating the opportunity to bring my family together!

    I’ve heard the Love Inspired lines are still rocking along! I’m curious, do you have any insight on why inspirational sales have kicked up almost simultaneously with the surge in erotica?

  4. CateS says:

    My family is pretty far apart… but we all make sure to check in on Thanksgiving… by phone or IM or Skype… Lots of turkey & dressing…. desserts galore!! Then the comatose in front of the football games… then back for more turkey & sandwiches…. did I mention desserts?

  5. Quilt Lady says:

    Yes we do have certain things we do. I cook the Thanksgiving dinner and my sister cooks Christmas. So we gather at my house on Thanksgiving weekend. We always have turkey, home made dumplins, dressing, mash potatoes, gravy the works, awesome desserts also. I don’t have a very large family anymore its about fifteen but we always have a good time.

  6. Thanks for hopping aboard today, Winnie!

    Ditto Helen’s question. Also–and we who write series romance understand that every series has its particulars–please tell us what the editorial requirements are for Love Inspired. And then, as you write your story, how do you approach the “inspired” aspect?

  7. Thanksgiving at the Eagles’ Nest these days generally includes kids plus S-I-L and grandkids. Years ago when our kids were really kids and we lived in ND we had a group of friends–3 families plus–who rotated holiday meals among the 3 homes. I usually had Easter, so Thanksgiving meant preparing a couple of traditional family dishes to contribute to the feast.

    More to come. Thanksgiving is a biggie for me.

  8. Leanne Banks says:

    Welcome Winnie!:) I love Thanksgiving. Sometimes I think I enjoy it more than Christmas because Christmas can feel like a lot of work if we’re not careful! To me, Thanksgiving is about just being together, being thankful and EATING!:)

  9. Hi Kerri! LOL – I’m with you on the food part! And don’t you love filling a house to overflowing with friends and family.

    CrystalGB – thanks for the nice words about my cover, LIH always does such a good job with them.

  10. Helen, I too have just started hosting Thanksgiving at my home – last year was my first. It’s a bit of work but so nice to have everyone in my home on that day.

    As for why inspirationals have grown so much in recent years, I don’t have a scientific answer. My gut feel, though, is that there is a large niche of readers who are looking for a heartwarming read that will allow them to escape the grittiness of their daily lives, with an added layer of the power of faith and hope to provide comfort and assurance that there is more to life than what we see here.

  11. CateS – sounds like your family is very close in spirit if not in physical distance

    Quilt Lady – oh yum! I got hungry just reading your post!

  12. Hi Kathleen. As for the editorial requirements – there are three Love Inspired lines. Love Inspired is the contemporary line, LI Suspense is the mystery/suspense line, and LI Historical is, of course the historical line. The first two have a 55,000-60,00 word requirement, while the historicals are 70,000-75,000 words. Though an overt ‘preachy’ tone is discouraged, all 3 lines feature stories told from a Christian worldview. And while the story itself can cover gritty topics, the grittier, harsher elements happen mostly off stage. You can find more detailed guidelines at

    As for how I approach the ‘inspired’ aspect, I approach it organically. My faith has always been a part of who I am, as has been prayer, failing, questioning and striving (not always sucessfully) to overcome my own weaknesses – so it is natural for me to include these elements, shown in light of how it affects my spiritual life, in my stories. Contrary to what many think, these stories do not often feature ‘conversion’ scenes. Rather, they show an arc in some aspect of the character’s spiritual growth.

    Whew! That was kind of long winded. Hope it answered your question.

  13. Hello Leanne – thanks for the welcome! And I agree that so much about Thanksgiving has to do with togetherness, sharing and counting our blessings.

  14. Fran Colley says:

    I knew Thanksgiving as a celebrated holiday was a Civil War thing (though I think the date might have varied year to year–I know FDR finally settled the date to the same each year or something.) Whatever–we’ve had turkey and pie for almost as long as we’ve been a nation. That’s what matters. 🙂

    I think the main tradition in our family is that the womenfolk make the meal. Every year we’ve made homemade fresh cranberry relish (ground cranberries, oranges, and apples with red jello & sugar mixed in to sweeten it), but it’s almost treated like a dessert rather than a side. We don’t eat it with the turkey; we eat bowls of it after our dinner. *LOL* Crazy. But I guess we a lot of vitamin C and high triglycerides from that.

    My sister and her family comes to the farm (where I’ve usually shown up to do the primary cooking) and brings candied sweet potatoes and pie. (Dad’s two favorite foods.)

    I’m not sure what we’ll do this year. The family keeps getting smaller–so it seems odd to keep cooking all these things, you know? It’s almost like we need to come up with a new tradition or something.

  15. Cindy Gerard says:

    Welcome, Winnie and congrats on the upcoming release. For me. Thanksgiving is all about the family getting together. It’s important to stay connected in this age of long distance communication.

  16. Congrats on you upcoming release. Thanksgiving to me will always remind me of my grandmother who has sadly passed away now. She would always have the best food there. That is the kind of grandma I want to be when I get grandkids.

  17. lois greiman says:

    Welcome, Winnie. Thanksgiving IS kind of on its way, isn’t it? Is it wrong that the first thing I think of is food?

  18. Vickie Knight says:

    Love the cover of the book Winnie and congrats. We’re a small family, but my mother cooks enough to keep my sister and my family in leftovers for a least a good week. We always end up at mom’s house it’s just tradition, but now that tradition is extending to everyone actually helping in the preparing of the food and the godawful task of clean up. But we are all together and healthly and happy and thats what matters to me.
    Vickie Knight

  19. Fran – sounds like you had a clearer picture than I how a 19th century Thanksgiving was celebrated. And your cranberry relish sound yummy!

    Cindy and Paula, I agree, Thanksgiving IS all about family and strengthening connections

    Lois – LOL, food IS a big part of how we celebrate the day. I think the women of our family all add love and joy to the ingrediants in the dishes they prepare

  20. Vickie, we all contribute dishes to the family celebration meals – though mom always handles the turkey and dressing (no one makes oyster and rice dressing like my mom!). There’s an unacknowledged, friendly competition between me, my three sisters and my sister-in-law to outdo each other in the food department – a competition everyone benefits from! As for the cleanup, since we usually have nearly thirty at these gatherings we decided a long time ago to put away the formal china in favor of festive paper plates and plastic forks.

  21. angela nicole chesnut says:

    My favorite Thanksgiving Tradition is going out to eat. We started doing this after my mother got sick and my youngest brother got married and spent Thanksgiving with his in laws.

  22. This book sounds really good.

    As far as Thanksgiving traditions go, my family has never really had any. Most of my relatives don’t get along with each other so most of the time it was just my parents and me. One thing we always did though was make the dinner together. Doesn’t seem like much, but now that my dad is gone, this will be my first Thanksgiving without him, so it’s nice to have those memories.

  23. Paper plates sounds really good to me, Winnie. Wonder if I could get that going here. Not only does the fam have an attachment to the same meal every year, but they want to see the same food in its traditional platter or bowl. When my mother died, her china and silver came to me. My sister said that since I would be having the hoiday meals at my house now… Soon after, one of the serving bowls had a run-in with my 2 cats. Next holiday meal, I felt terrible when the absence of the mashed potato bowl was noticed. An explanation was demanded–I had quietly disposed of the remains thinking no one would notice–and there was much weeping, wailing and reminiscence of the year of the lumps and the first time garlic was added and the fact that while it couldn’t keep its contents warm worth a darn, it was a good ol’ bowl.

  24. addendum to the mashed potato bowl story, told with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye…

    I was a military brat. That china has done a lot of traveling, collected lots of memories. Thanksgiving was Mama’s favorite holiday. After a painful battle with cancer, she died on Thanksgiving. It was a bittersweet feast for me for a time, but now I understand that Thanksgiving will always be Mama’s favorite holiday, and that china is my sweet reminder.

  25. Angela – Thanksgiving is more about the fellowship than the location so I see nothing at all wrong with going out. And it sure makes the clean up easier

    Tiffany, sounds like you and your parents are a very close knit unit. So sorry about the loss of your father. Mine passed away about a year and a half ago and the holidays do seem to bring a special bittersweet pang to them

  26. Kathleen, family traditions do get deeply ingrained in us, don’t they – no matter how trivial they may seem to ‘outsiders’? And I’m so sorry that the holiday has such a poignant anniversary tied to it. But I’m sure that your mother would be pleased that you still carry on the family traditions in her absence

  27. My family has been deployed for the past 9 out of 10 Thanksgivings. However, we usually try and have our feast when we get together. We cook all day and don’t eat until everything is ready. Then we eat sandwiches at midnight. Love them!

  28. Pingback: The Thanksgiving Door « Thanksgiving Supplies

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