At Thanksgiving I always consider the first feast on the sandy shores of Massachusetts. Plymouth is so sandy it would have been difficult for settlers using European methods to coax much sustenance from the ground without the horticultural aid of the natives.
The settlers had much for which to be grateful. The natives hadn’t bashed their heads in, had actually befriended them. A few did not starve to death or succumb to disease during the first miserable winter. They could pray the way they wished there among the dunes with no one to disparage or condemn their beliefs. And they had some pretty radical ideas.
I imagine the natives approaching the strangers warily, but drawn to the feast and the benefits of sociability. Little did they suspect the flood tide of invasion soon to occur, the destruction of their way of life and their very lives.
Today’s celebration little resembles the first lengthy event, although women usually do most of the work, as back then. I have often wondered if we need this over-blown holiday with its rush of travel and glut of overindulgence. Yet, no matter how much football and balloon float parades and Black Friday try to take over the day, for a brief time all Americans are reminded that survival is an occasion for celebration. Every moment we live truly is a gift and we should be thankful, even if just once in the year.