November 5, 2013

In and Out of the Quad-Cities – The Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving, Sorta

Contributed by Gail McPike and Toni Hall

Girl Power on the Road

Pricilla, Myles and Patience – The Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving, Sorta

November is a wonderful time of the year, especially here in the lovely QCA. Summer turns to autumn, the leaves provide a spectacular (and environmentally safe) explosion of color, the Great Pumpkin makes his annual late night flight, and the final ghosts, goblins and grandly costumed youngsters have cashed in their Halloween goodies. Finally, November has arrived.

Chasing the final remnants of trick-or-treat indulgence from our conscience, November also marks the beginning of the winter Holiday Season. This year is extra special. For the first time in recorded history, Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukah occur on the same day. In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday to be observed the last Thursday in November. In the 1940s, President Franklin Roosevelt reset the date to be the fourth Thursday in November (as opposed to the last Thursday), meaning the latest Thanksgiving date can be observed is November 28. The earliest date that Hanukah can be is November 27.

Now, somebody hum that eerie refrain from The Twilight Zone, the next time Thanksgiving and Hanukah will have the same overlap is the year 79,811 – only 77 thousand years away! According to Current Trophy Husband Frank, this issue comes about because of nuances in the Jewish lunar calendar which differs from the solar-based Gregorian calendar. Either way, we are planning to make reservations for a nice table at a really nice space-diner. We’d invite you, but marking your calendar would be such a pain. However, we’re not here to chat about calendars; we’re going to slice up the first Thanksgiving like a slice of Frances Sanders’ pumpkin pie.

“In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Or, at least, so went the poem we learned back in grade school. Before we get to the heart of the Thanksgiving story, allow us a second to stray. Remember when we got to celebrate all the holidays when we were kids? Our teachers would dutifully decorate the bulletin board with highlights of literally every special day. Columbus Day always got good play. It was a great story. The flat world; begging the Queen of Spain for a few ships; meeting up with Native Americans; vacationing in the Caribbean – Columbus started the whole New World craze.

Before you know it, everybody was talking about Christopher’s great adventure; it was almost as big as Miley Cyrus’ twerk on TV. Even the English got cranked up about the whole America deal. About 128 years after Columbus’ adventure, the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock. Not to change the topic or anything, but we better get back to the Thanksgiving story.

Somehow our young impressionable minds drank up the visuals offered up by our kindly school teachers. Pilgrims seemed to be a buckle happy bunch. They wore buckles on their hats, buckles on their shoes, and buckles on their ever-ready trusty blunderbuss. They were totally into the basics of a black outfit. Men, women, boys and girls all “Pilgrimed” around Plymouth in black homespun.

To give you an idea of the lengths we go to in order to provide you with all the facts, we plan to attend a fiber gathering called Stitches East, in lovely, Hartford, Connecticut in early November. While this isn’t Plymouth Rock, it is deep in the heart of New England. And New England was the sight of the first Thanksgiving. Steeped in the rich New England history, we will reaffirm the facts that we share here.

Seriously folks, the Pilgrims were Church of England separatists who thirsted for the ability to practice their religion without fear of interference or influence. They planned a trip to the New World in a 58-year-old ship called the Mayflower. Due to delays in starting their voyage and a broken mast along the way, they arrived in Massachusetts rather than the more temperate and settler friendly Virginia. What’s worse, they arrived too late for establishing crops or building any kind of substantial shelter. Lack of food and shelter during the cold New England Winter can be hazardous to your health. Many of the Pilgrim men, women and children died during that dreadful first winter of 1620-21.

The next summer brought better times, friendly neighbors and good crops. Following the harvest of 1621, the Pilgrims had a formal celebration of thanksgiving. According to our teacher, they invited the Indian-Family from down the path. The Pilgrim’s turkey didn’t come from the grocery store; instead it came fresh from the woods behind the house. Other wild game was enjoyed at the feast. Somebody brought a corn dish but it was purple and obviously didn’t catch on. The pumpkins… well we do know where they came from. The rest, as they say, is history.

Because we know you’ve been wondering why we chose the title we did… well “Pricilla, Myles and Patience, Pilgrim’s names were very odd” was CTH Frank’s line from his 3rd Grade debut in the Thanksgiving Pageant. Can you pass the cranberry sauce? BTW – according to the Mayflower Society there are over 35 Million direct descendants of the 101 souls who landed in 1620. Pretty cool! We have a lot to be thankful for.

Filed Under: Community, History, Humor