Legend has it that on this day in 1621, a bunch of guys wearing black and white outfits (some of them decked out with big shiny buckles) sat down and broke bread with a bunch of the locals (Native Americans).
“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe
That seems logical enough, seeing as how those Pilgrims fled oppression and then moved to someplace where they could find a new life… and there were already people there, when they landed those boats.
In school, we were taught that the Pilgrims and the Puritans got all dressed up and then ate turkey backdropped by a mountain of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Um…. Nope. First, they didn’t do this in November at all. It was more like late September or early October. If you’ve ever traveled to that part of the country this time of year, you know that it’s too damned cold for “outdoor parties” in November. That part of the country was still at the tail age of the Ice Age and winter came early and it came HARD. Hell, the snow drifts were taller than most of those guys, even with their big hats on!
I can buy that when they DID gather together, they put on their “Sunday go to meeting” garb. I mean, when they partied, they dressed for it. I’m betting life was hard and boring. If I’d lived then, I’d have put on the good clothes and then… insured everyone saw me. (I’m funny like that.) The rest of the time, they wore simple clothes tailored for farm and field work. Modest clothes. You know, no exposed ankles or boobage. That’s witch stuff. More about that later.
No, Virginia, contrary to what they taught you at Berkeley, they didn’t wear tie dye or flipflops. That kinda behavior would get you branded as a witch and then… they’d BBQ your butt in the middle of town. Hey, some people will do anything to build a fire to huddle around… and then eat a free meal after… especially when food is scarce and the weather is in the teen’s. LOL!
No, they probably didn’t wear big shiny buckles like you see on TV. According to historical archives, they didn’t even HAVE them. We’re told that those big buckles probably came about 100 years later, arriving in the boats filled will new colonists. Fashion moved slowly in those days.
Good thing that TV moves faster or we’d never have known about these trend-setters…
Pilgrims didn’t eat mashed potatoes. No, the Irish didn’t steal them all! Stop thinking like that. Now those sneaky Germans… they might have stolen them… but… I’m pretty sure that potatoes didn’t grow in that part of the country yet. And, it’s pretty hard to eat something that isn’t there. I learn this lesson every time I go to the pantry in the middle of the night to find a pop tart (Sorry @Lori Shemek) and discover that my little boy has eaten them all.
The Pilgrims did shoot everything out of the sky that they could, but wild turkeys were (and are) pretty smart. Ben Franklin commented on it later when he nominated the wild turkey as our national bird. So, I’m betting that the poultry on the table was probably duck and geese. If they’d have landed on the other side, they’d probably have hunted birds too. They’d have probably shot ducks and geese and even eagles… and the occasional Seahawk (because they are slow moving and easy to hit and apparently only do great things about one season every hundred years), only to discover that Seahawks were scrawny and stringy beasts, loud and boisterous, but rarely capable of doing anything that contributes reliably and redundantly to civilized society… @Alan Amend
The Pilgrims prayed, ate, talked, squawked and generally partied like “Pilgrim Rock Stars”. From what history records about the culture of the times, I’m betting it was pretty stodgy, boring stuff. I’m betting that the music sucked, too.
It was so boring that it didn’t happen much after that. This was either G_d getting bored watching a bunch of black and white clad knuckleheads look down their noses at the locals… or the fact that disease, weather conditions and poverty just killed the repeat performance. It might have been a combination of all of those things. Historical records only record that it didn’t become an annual event until much later.
As colonists came and went, the remembrance of that meal was talked about, discussed, and then carried off with them and eventually it spread all over the US. This leads me to another impression of that first party. Apparently Joe Walsh (or possibly Keith Richards) was at that first party and he/they raised hell. I mean, how else would anyone remember it for a decade after?
Hey, it could have happened. Have you SEEN Keith Richards? He could be 400 years old, easy.
Thanksgiving was an opportunity to put away food rationing, food planning and resource coveting. It was a chance to just put it out there on the table for everyone else to see.
“My table is bigger than YOUR table…”
That was important back then. Women didn’t look for guys with big hands or big feet… they looked for BIG tables.
Thanksgiving was a way of building morale. “See, we worked our butts off and we’re gonna make it through another winter. Hell honey, your mother will probably make it through winter… mumble, grumble snort…” They were thankful for all the work they’d accomplished. They were thankful that they had all their poop in a group and they didn’t have to be afraid of winter. They were thankful for those who had survived all the hard work.
They were probably thankful that their kids weren’t being raised by “Spongebob Squarepants” or “Dr McStuffin”…
As you sit down at that table today, thinking about the football that you’ll be watching while inhaling pumpkin pie later (after you arm-wrestle your M-I-L for the big slice)…
… think about what you’re really thankful for.
What are you thankful for – that you’ll still have tomorrow, or next month or next year?
Will you still have food in your pantry?
Will you still have meat in your freezer?
Will your family be warm, dry, well nourished and well slept?
Will your family still have a roof over their heads?
Many families next month, next year… won’t have any of those things. Many families don’t have that NOW.
As you think about giving thanks, please remember how much you really have to be thankful for.
Wherever you are today, whatever you’re doing, whoever you are with… give them a big hug and remind them just how thankful you are that they are there with you. In the blink of an eye – all of that can change. Please, as you travel, be safe and spread the love. A little love goes a long way. Love builds bridges that last a lifetime. Build some bridges with your family. Let them remember this day and then carry it forward. It’ll give them a gift they’ll be thankful for, for a long, long time.
We’re spending the rest of this year focusing efforts to insure that families in the Philippines (and other places hard hit) have things to be thankful for too. We’ve decided that money we would have spent on the holidays will be used instead to help with emergency relief operations in the Philippines.
If you want to help, if you want to aid other families in need, if you want to help families become reunited with those they were separated from in the typhoon… if you have a few bucks to spare to insure that other families in harm’s way are warm, fed and tended to, cared for by first responders and volunteers who gave up time with their own families because other families need them so much more… we’d love to hear from you.
There is so much to do and so little time.
If you want to help us help others during this holiday season, you can PayPal a donation (every single penny helps and will go straight to providing aid to the victims of Haiyan) to our PayPal ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re a manufacture or distributor of gear that can be used by rescue workers and first responders and you want to help, PLEASE email us at: email@example.com and put “Haiyan Relief” in the subject line.
If you’re a firefighter, an EMT, a Paramedic, a Doctor or a Nurse that wants to spend some time over the holidays helping those in desperate need, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Rescue Workers” in the subject line.
Have a happy holidays, folks. I’m signing off and heading to bed for a few hours. I’ve been up all night monitoring Philippine Emergency Relief Op chatter on the HAM radio.