Since the earliest American Thanksgiving, the majestic wild turkey has long been part of our roots and a staple on the pioneer table. His colorful plumage is a prize as well, not only the tail feathers, but also the interesting and contrasting wing feathers, too. I use them in and around the house all year long, especially at Thanksgiving – the strutting, drumming bird’s time to shine! The first Thanksgiving is commonly thought to have occurred in 1621, in present-day Massachusetts, by Pilgrims and Puritans emigrating from England. Many don’t realize that an earlier group from England arrived on Sept. 16, 1619, and that the first call for an annual Thanksgiving was on that date at Berkeley Plantation, Va, when Capt. John Woodlief and 38 settlers aboard the ship Margaret landed.The London Company gave its settlers these instructions upon landing: “We ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacion in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” Begin some traditions of your own by utilizing your spring harvest as Thanksgiving décor. Start by preserving your tail feathers in a fan shape. Open and pin your turkey fan to a sturdy piece of wood or cardboard box. Sprinkle and cover any meat or skin at the base of the fan with Borax — this helps dry it and prevent bugs. As your fan dries, make sure to keep it in a safe place from curious cats, dogs and other varmints. In a few weeks, it will be dry and hold its open shape by itself. Then, use the fan and any other loose feathers to set your Thanksgiving table. Here’s my spin on a little inspiration I took from Martha Stewart for placecards using a pine cone, real turkey feathers, red pipe cleaner and thumbtacks. Simple. The very first national day of Thanksgiving was held in 1789, when President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, Nov. 26, to be “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.” Don’t be afraid to use color to accent your turkey feathers, either. Use hot pink, orange and purple for exciting accents. Copper and pewter accessories blend nicely, too. In 1863 President Lincoln declared a Thanksgiving proclamation, based on Washington’s date, to make Thanksgiving an annual, national holiday. But, due to the ongoing Civil War, this date was not recognized until after Reconstruction ended in the late 1870s. Finally, on Dec. 26, 1941, Congress passed a law declaring that Thanksgiving would occur every year on the fourth Thursday of November. In this photo, a pair of vintage turkey candy containers add a little whimsy to the table, along with feathers tucked in a hot pink napkin, secured with brown satin ribbon. The ribbon can be rolled up and saved in a zip-top bag for future use. Maybe there’s a good reason John James Audubon selected the wild turkey as the subject of the very first image in his 1827 series, Birds of America. If you need a little more feather inspiration, or Christmas gift ideas, email Rita@HeritageGameMounts.com to learn more about these gorgeous, American hand-crafted lapel pins ($60) for men and ladies. These are not on the website yet, because they are new and each is one-of-a-kind. Each pin comes in a handsome velvet-lined presentation box. For more decorating inspiration, read Rita’s “Birds & Feathers” blog post.