I once serenaded the newly divorced Mark with my rendition of “Home for the Holidays” one Christmas Eve. He returned the favor the next Thanksgiving with the worst gravy you ever saw.
Ever since, the basic tenet of Cobb Manor living has been “Ruin every Sunday, ruin every holiday.” I even have a pillow with that etched upon it. My sainted mother accused me of that virtually every Sunday and every holiday.
In that vein, I have researched the fallacies on Thanksgiving, a holiday that is approaching rapidly.
Let’s start with the website Native Circle and its angry correspondent, Johnny Two-Hawks.
First of all, Two-Hawks said Thanksgiving hardly started with a harmonious, loving relationship between the illegal aliens — what the Indians thought — called Pilgrims and the native Wampanoag and Narragansetts in October 1621, after the aliens survived their first winter.
In fact, a few days before this feast, a company of “pilgrims” led by Miles Standish built an 11-foot wall around the compound to keep the Indians out. Not harmonious and loving, he said.
The first “real” Massachusetts Thanksgiving was actually held in 1637 when Gov. Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed the first official holiday to celebrate the return of the men who had arrived from Mystic, Conn., where they participated in “the massacre of 700 Pequot men, women and children,” Two-Hawks wrote.
The first real Massachusetts Thanksgiving was to “give thanks” for the white man’s “great victory,” Two-Hawks said.
Hey. Don‘t blame me. Blame Two-Hawks.
I have more.
The first “real” Thanksgiving feasts were held not in Plymouth, dear reader, but in cozy and warm St. Augustine, Fla., in 1565 to celebrate the annual harvest. Other areas that preceded Plymouth were Newfoundland — honest to God — in 1578, French Canada in 1604 and Jamestown, Va., in 1607.
The romantic association of Plymouth with Thanksgiving was created by a highly inaccurate painting by Sarah Josepha Hale, who campaigned for years for an official Thanksgiving holiday. Hale’s efforts were not successful until 1863, when she was able to convince President Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving might serve to unite a war-torn country. The president actually declared two national Thanksgivings that year, one on Aug. 6, celebrating the victory at Gettysburg, and a second on the last Thursday in November.
The Pilgrims did not dress exclusively in black nor wear those tall hats with buckles. According to Plimoth (quaint spelling) Plantation historian James W. Baker, this buckle image was formed decades later when buckles were considered an emblem of quaintness.
Thus came the concept that Pilgrims dressed austerely in black and white, when in fact they often wore earth tones, scarlet and yellow, according to Francis Bremer, chairman of the history department at Pennsylvania’s Millersville University.
Bremer dismisses the idea that Pilgrims were priggish about alcohol and sex.
“Their tradition coming from England was to drink beers, ales, stouts and other home-brewed beverages,” he said. “They would have continued that.”
As for sex, between a married couple it was encouraged and not just for procreation, Bremer said.
Hey. It was a long winter.
Make a list. Various historians say there was no turkey, no potato, no squash, no cranberry sauce or even pumpkin pie.
No potatoes? Why bother?
We know there was plenty of venison at that Thanksgiving and a number of birds, if not turkey, were killed for the occasion. Eel and lobster shared the menu.
There were onions and pumpkins but no pumpkin pie. The pilgrims were unable to bake since they had no ovens and had no sugar. Cranberries had not been introduced yet but there were currants available.
And forget forks. They had not yet been invented. The pilgrims and Indians ate with their fingers. Imagine that around your family table. With eel.
Let’s review. Thanksgiving celebrated a massacre, with no turkey, no potatoes, no cranberry, no pies. Forget ice cream.
Have a nice Thanksgiving.
Ruin every Sunday. Ruin every holiday.
Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at firstname.lastname@example.org.