Monday, November 22, 2010

Power to the Pilgrims

Working in second grade, I get an annual reminder, and history lesson, about the first Thanksgiving. Each year, it’s fun seeing the kids get into the art projects, this year is was clay pinch pots and pilgrim hats, while they learn about our national eating holiday. For those of you who could use a refresher course, this one’s for you.

The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating, like a cold I can’t even imagine, and no central heating. By the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast -- including 91 Wampanoag Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives, thus proving Bette Middler was right when she sang, “But you gotta have friends.”

The first feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival that lasted three days. Three days of feasting on wild turkey, pumpkin pies and corn bread, while a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables lay across the table, reminding all they were giving thanks to God for their bountiful harvest and provisions. Having suffered a devastating winter, now the Plymouth colony and Indian friends were celebrating friendship, survival and abundance.

I imagine John and Mary Pilgrim sitting next to their new BFFs, Blackfoot and Pocahontas, stuffing their bellies and rejoicing together over all that yummy food. Now what if John Pilgrim turned on his radio and Jingle Bells was playing? Frustrated, he tries another station and is shocked to hear, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, and sadly he looks at Blackfoot who is equally disgusted that the world wants to skip thankfulness and deck the halls. Everyone around the Thanksgiving table may just feel forgotten and unappreciated.
What happened to Thanksgiving? Every store I visit has jumped over the Feast and is diving head first into Christmas, which demotes Thanksgiving to forgotten holiday status. I don’t want to hear Christmas Carols on the radio in November. I want it to be a time of peace, gratitude, family and overeating. I refuse to welcome the lights, wreaths, carols, extreme sales and candy canes. There is a time and place for Christmas and it starts AFTER we give thanks for our abundant blessings and eat so much that we have to undo the top button.
To each of you, I wish you a great Thanksgiving and hope you find yourself at a table with family and friends and talking about what you’re thankful for. Cheers!

No comments: