Tag Archive | Thanksgiving myths

A Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

thanksgivingHolidays are curious times. Most of us look forward to them; some of us dread them. We all have a perception of the “perfect” celebration, which is usually unrealistic. So, when the actual holiday rolls around we are either elated or disappointed. There’s  no in between.

This year I was looking forward to being with Ken’s family in Chicago only to learn they all are heading to Nebraska to be with Ken’s other brother and his family. Needless to say, I was in a funk. My picture of our usual Norman Rockwell-type Thanksgiving with the turkey sitting golden brown on the perfectly set dining table, surrounded by smiling faces were dashed with one phone call.

Last year we went to my dear friend Kay’s house. Little did I know that would be the last time we’d be together for the holiday because this fall Kay and her husband moved to Florida. I’m so thankful we had the opportunity to be together because Thanksgiving is special to Kay. It’s the one American holiday she enjoys as a Scottish immigrant.

This year, though, I had to develop a plan “B,” so  I called a few friends to see if they had plans for the unique American holiday only to find out they were already busy.  It looked like Ken and I would be roasting our 15 pound bird alone, and then we’d sit across the dining room table just like any other ordinary night, staring at each other, while we would eat a meal which was meant to be shared.

And then the phone rang.

Just as I accepted our lonely fate, I got a call from a close friend. It was our Dave inviting us to his family’s Thanksgiving dinner. He and Terry have been friends for over 20 years; we have watched their boys grown into handsome young men and supported each other through good times and bad. This invitation lifted my spirits more than I can tell you.

Now instead of moping around like an orphaned child, I’m actually looking forward to Thursday. I’ll begin the day with a cup of coffee, while I watch the Macy’s parade in my jammies. Following that tradition, Ken and I will enjoy a special breakfast, before we watch the Packers/Lion’s football game dressed in our Packer regalia. Finally, we’ll toddle off to a thankful feast with great friends. Sounds like a good day.

Real History Told

historyI love history. I love learning how people lived during different time periods. I want to know how they viewed the world and what they did because of their beliefs. I also enjoy hearing how written history — what we all learned in school — is just one person’s take on what really happened. Not surprisingly, the tales we learned are just that — tales.

Last night, I enjoyed a History Channel program called Fact or Fiction. The program covered the Mayflower coming to America, the Pilgrim’s first year of life here, and first Thanksgiving. The show compared the “facts” most of us believe with what actually happened in 1620.

Did you know the Mayflower was one of two ships that set sail for the new land? Yup. The other ship had to turn around twice before it ever left England because it leaked. Because the ship couldn’t be made sea worthy, the Mayflower took on more passengers than it should have had. mayflower

As far as landing on Plymouth Rock, well nobody knows for sure. In the historical log, there is no mention of the big rock. Actually, the Pilgrims were sailing for the port that was at the Hudson River (NYC), but strong winds blew them north, thus they landed in what now is Massachusetts. More likely Plymouth Rock was a landmark and for sure the Pilgrims didn’t step on it. 

The first year of life was tough on the novice settlers. Only half of the Pilgrims lived, and the survivors wouldn’t have lived if it hadn’t been for Squanto, an Indian who had earlier been captured by the English and thrown into slavery. While he was in England, he learned the language. At some point he escaped and sailed back to his home only to find that most of his tribe had been wiped out by smallpox.squanto

But this man, put aside any anger he might have had for the white man and taught the new settlers how to plant corn, hunt, and fish. Squanto was also instrumental in arranging a treaty with the Wampanoag Indians. In 1621, Massasoit, the chief of the tribe signed a “treaty of friendship” giving the English permission to occupy 12,000 acres of land. 

Now let’s talk about Thanksgiving. First of all, the Pilgrims only invited Chief Massasoit to dinner to commemorate the treaty. He in turn, invited 90 other Indians who first went out hunting and provided the meat for the meal. And no, it wasn’t turkey. It was venison.pilgrims

The thanksgivings after the first one were very dark–not at all the “Home Sweet Home” version we like to conjure up. If you’re interested in reading how the white man murdered over 700 Pequot Indians, here’s the link.  http://rense.com/general45/thanks.htm It’s much too gory for me to repeat.

My point to this discussion is that we all remember history to suit our needs. The truth about what really happened is in the hands of  people who wrote it down, and when stories are retold, the bad things seem to get lost. Worse yet, even some of the good things get lost. How many of you ever heard of Squanto?

I rest my case.