Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving, an American Tradition Since a Long Time Ago


(The First Thanksgiving, painting by J.L.G. Farris. Can you spot the cowboy?)

It’s 1621. You’re a pilgrim. According to Wikipedia, you live in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Your Native American buddy, Squanto, who you refer to as “Redskin” because you’re racist, has dropped by to give you more eel fishing lessons. Before Squanto showed you something called a “net” the barehanded eel squeeze was your best wrangling method. But now, you're up to your neck in eels and dreading that night’s meal of eel pudding, your wife’s latest desperate attempt to prepare eel in a way that makes it stay down.

You gaze at Squanto, his bare back muscles sweaty and glistening in the evening sunset. Then you suppress those feelings because you don’t want to be burned at the stake, nor do you want your life to become an eventual Oscar contender.

Squanto looks at his watch. He tells you he has to go because he’s hanging out with some of his Indian friends that night at the local branch of the Wampanoag Club. They’re preparing gift bags for the annual Harvest Festival. This year’s theme is “dead turkey.”

“Hey,” you say, trying not to sound too desperate, “we’ve got a Harvest Festival too. Why don’t we potluck it? I’ll bring eel.”

And thus, since potluck was cheaper than catering anyway, the first Thanksgiving was born. William Bradford, in Plymouth Plantation, describes the preparations for the feast:

“They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion, except the Mansfields because no one liked them. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, muskrat, and Sasquatch. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports; Ha, Ha. We have food. Have fun starving in England, assholes.

And feast the pilgrims and Indians did. It was after this grand celebration that Larry, the most annoying of the Pilgrims, said, “Let us all give thanks for all that ye be thankful for.” And so began the tradition of each guest proclaiming what they were grateful for after Thanksgiving dinner. (The other post-meal tradition, started by Larry’s bulimic wife, Sally, is still practiced in entertainment-industry circles).

After the meal was finished, the Pilgrims remembered that they had to get home and check on the dogs, leaving the Indians to clean up the mess. The Pilgrims really just went to Target to get in line for fantastic deals on televisions.

And that, my friends, is the story of Thanksgiving. Have yourself a wonderful one.

11 comments:

Kristy said...

Wow - I never knew the true story of Thanksgiving. I have been lied to all of my life. LIES!!!!!

Anonymous said...

You are nothing but a whore for the Target corporation.

Jess said...

Watch for my upcoming children's book "Turkey & Small Pox - What people really brought to the first Thanksgiving." I think you would totally appreciate it.

Kate said...

Bulimia is not a joke, sir.

Except for in the case you used it.

Anonymous said...

well, this goes against everything and anthing i have ever learned...but when you think about it, it actually makes sense....

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