When I was a kindergartener, I discovered Thanksgiving was combined with cool crafts of making paper turkeys by crayoning around my hand. I also learned that people called pilgrims who lived a very long time ago wore strange white hats. Which was the sum total of my knowledge of that holiday for an embarrassingly long time.
Many years later, when homeschooling my ten-year-old and digging through her father’s past, I realized her ancestors arrived on that rickety wooden ship called the Mayflower. I was riveted. Related to the pilgrims? Those hardy, fanatical souls?
This time of year, I can’t help but think of those Mayflowerites, and not because of the colorful paper turkeys everywhere, but because right around now the cold and dark encompass my cedar-shingled house, and, instinctively, as I go about calculating my wood pile and battening down storm windows for our house’s journey through the coming perishingly cold months, I imagine the keening worries of families who had too little for sustenance and shelter – and too much of illness and exhaustion.
My list of thanksgiving begins with what I have here: pies on the table, a sweater to knit for a gift, warm boots. Us.
Many of us came away from our youth thinking that the story of the Revolution was that the Americans were patriots fighting the oppressive British. It was kind of good versus evil, liberty versus tyranny. When you get into it, you find that it was much more complicated.
– Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower