I suppose that many of you know that my favorite holiday is fast approaching and is now on the horizon. I just love Thanksgiving and it isn’t just all the wonderful food that is available and served. No, what I really like the most is the historical significance of this wonderful family day. Keep in mind that Halloween, which I think is the only holiday that is just for children, is now past. Hopefully your children were allowed to Trick or Treat and they got much too much candy! That is what Halloween is about and even though the kids eat too much sugar, remember it is only one day a year. And if you are like the elder statesman in our house, he always helps the kids to eat whatever he can get his hands on. Now the next holiday, which is Thanksgiving is almost here and this holiday is really a time for families to get together and enjoy one another’s company. And that is just what it should be. A time to get together and eat all of the family’s favorite dishes and treats. What it isn’t is a day to go shopping!
As I always do, I think about our ancestors and what Thanksgiving meant to them. In this day and age it is almost impossible to think of how cold it was and how hard these hardy souls had to work just to keep body and soul together. There was no place for them to go to buy their groceries. And if wasn’t for the Indians or as we now consider politically correct, native Americans, they would probably have died of hunger and the nasty and cold weather. But survive they did. I wouldn’t presume to say prosper, because that really wasn’t the thought of those days. Nope, all these pilgrims wanted to do was enjoy the freedom that Plymouth afforded them, have safe and secure houses and a place to live and raise their children.
I have to tell you that I have been to the Plimoth Plantation, which is a restored colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts and it was really an eye opener. The Native American village houses a number of residents and when I was there it was raining, cold and had a whipping wind. But those who were working and appeared to actually be living there were barely clothed and when asked about their lack of clothing in that lousy weather, they said that this was the way the Native Americans lived back around 1620. Hearty doesn’t even begin to describe them.
And then we walked into the Pilgrim village. Because of the rain, their paths were ankle deep in mud and the houses were dank. Each one of the residents were actually in attendance and I got to enter the house of my actual relative and talk to his “wife.” She was hard at work trying to keep the fire burning on the little open hearth, but she took the time to show me around her house, which was amazingly small and housed not only her husband, several children, and two hired men but herself as well. And she had to cook, clean, sew, keep a garden, and wash for all of them. I did ask her about Thanksgiving and she told me that it was always an anticipated day for them, but of course, the women only got to cook and serve! The day I was there, her clothes were dirty and her skirts really wet and clotted with mud and of course, no bathing opportunities were available. And a shower wasn’t even thought of for about 300 years! But she continued to work and ignored the harsh conditions.
Can you even imagine living in such hardship? Of course not. Now we consider ourselves deprived if we don’t have a cell phone and cable TV! So, this Thanksgiving day, at your house, even if your children and grandchildren sneer at you, try to get a discussion going on how lucky we really are these days. And try to get them to realize that our lives today are possible because of those who came before us so long ago.
If you ever get the chance to go to Plymouth, Mass. you can see an exact replica of the Mayflower and when you do, it is almost inconceivable that so many hardy souls and quite a large crew sailed this ship from England/Holland and almost all of them survived! And then if you go to the Plimoth Plantation you will be aghast at how they lived. This, folks, is our heritage, and we will be very remiss if we don’t share these times with our children. I know that they are the children of the new and electronic age but they need to know that not a single resident of Plimoth had a cell phone!