I know this may be redundant, but I just can’t help myself! It is almost Thanksgiving and it is time for me to remind you about our forefathers/mothers and what they went through to make it possible for us to sit down with family and friends and eat ourselves silly.
I am not sure what the weather was like when they arrived at Plymouth, MA but as one who has spent a lot of time very near to where they arrived and settled, I do know that this time of year is lousy. But let’s think about what they went through before their feast of thanksgiving.
First and foremost, they had to build some type of shelter for all those who survived their trip from Holland. I would assume that there were plenty of trees but other than that, they had little or nothing to work with. Remember, there wasn’t a Home Depot or Lowes anywhere near. So, they build their settlement, built small and very cramped houses and began their lives in the new world.
And after a difficult year, after which they were befriended by the resident Native Americans, they decided to have a feast to celebrate their good fortune. And here is where I find it most interesting. Please note, that the men went out and hunted for the meat to be served. And because the game and especially the turkeys were abundant, venison, fish and turkeys were the main meat selections of the day. And the women, who were also raising the older children and nursing the babies, were given the tasks of preparing the “side” dishes. Now I am pretty sure that these dishes didn’t mean just squash or turnips, mashed potatoes, prepared creamed onions and of course, mashed potatoes. What I assume was prepared was corn, squash and maybe potatoes, but certainly not mashed with butter and cream. I am not sure about dessert but I guess pies have been a staple for hundreds of years and I am sure that those poor women had to prepare them too.
Now, if you are one of those who are saying, what’s the big deal? Let me remind you of a few more things. All this feast was prepared on an open fireplace, which was small and smoked like crazy. And again, the women did all the cooking etc. and did so with long, dirty, wet skirts that very often caught on fire! Not my idea of a good time. But let’s suppose that everything went well and that the feast was prepared with little or no accident. And here is my favorite part, the men with all their new friends, sat down and were served, out of doors by the women. They ate, drank, and smoked and had a grand old time. And the women (and children) were not included and only if they were lucky could they have the scraps that were left. Boy, does that sound like a good time? And who do you suppose had to clean up?
Today we are much more fortunate as we celebrate these first hearty souls. But I do think it would be a very good thing if we would take the time just to think about them. Not only did they come to this country for religious freedom but to be able to have a society that they could rule themselves. Which brings to mind, how sad it is that many of us who live in Vermont didn’t even bother to vote for our state officials. What do you suppose our Pilgrim ancestors would think? Perhaps they would ask for a re-vote!
May you all have a safe, happy and wonderful Thanksgiving. And although you don’t get to cook it over an open hearth, enjoy anyway!