Jeff’s Corner 11-16-17

Well, once again it is time for me to say RUN FOR YOUR LIVES, TURKEYS!!!  Thanksgiving (perhaps our most gluttonous of holidays, and my personal favorite), is born from starvation.

As we know, legend and history dance a fine waltz; and the story (or reality) of the “First Thanksgiving” is a little fuzzy.  I did some research and found lots of contradictions.  We’re not even sure if turkey was on the table, but William Bradford did write about how plentiful they were around Plymouth that fall, so I’m saying Gobble Gobble.

The pilgrims arrived in November, 1620. They were not seeking freedom of religion for all, but were seeking freedom to practice their religion, which was very intolerant of others.  The first year was brutal, and only about half of the 101 passengers on the Mayflower survived.

Quite possibly, none of them would have survived without an uneasy alliance negotiated by Squanto (a very duplicitous translator) between the pilgrims and Massasoit, the great Sachem (leader) of the powerful Wampanoag tribe.  The Wampanoags taught the pilgrims how to grow crops suited to the New England terrain, and fed them during their first winter.

We know that the first Thanksgiving (even though it wasn’t called Thanksgiving until the 19th century) occurred in late September or early October 1621.  This was shortly after a successful harvest of corn, squash, beans, peas, and barley.  The pilgrims were especially thankful for the barley, which was soon to be beer.

William Bradford, leader of Plymouth, said it was time to “rejoice together…after a more special manner”.  The festival was meant to be spiritual as well as celebratory, and he invited Massasoit and his family to join the celebration.  Migrating ducks and geese were plentiful, and Bradford sent four men to go “fowling”.  In just a few hours they returned with a bunch of birds for the big feast.

Well, when Massasoit’s “family” arrived, it was about 100 guests and there was not enough grub.  Massasoit immediately dispatched a few hunters that quickly returned with five deer, and a feast and celebration began that lasted three days.  The game was either roasted over fires or stewed with the veggies from the harvest.  It was most likely all prepared using Wampanoag seasonings and cooking techniques..

Well, from our perspective, turning our imaginations back 400 years can be pretty tricky.  What really brought these two very different people together for three days of sharing?  Was it curiosity, fear, or maybe compassion?  Was it an incredible innocence thinking that they could embrace such different cultures and live in peace?

What would it take for us to do this with people very different from ourselves if we could only communicate with smiles and eye contact and physical gestures?

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  This is a time to share love and memories with family and friends and be grateful for our time together.  Food, wine, laughter, and tears bind us for too short a time.  Kath, I’m so very thankful for our love and all we’ve shared…the past, today, and the future.