Funny how you can remember things that happened decades ago but can’t recall what you had for breakfast the day before.
This happens to me a lot, especially when my mind wanders back to grammar school.
I can still see Miss Baker’s hairspray-encrusted beehive – the light dancing off it as the sun beamed through the small window in the main door of my first grade classroom.
At that moment, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Matronly, yes, but it worked for her.
Then there was the time I was with my mother at a department store. We saw a janitor walk into the main restroom and quickly scurry back out, shouting, “Who done this? Who done this thing?”
And yet what I remember more clearly than almost anything else is the story of the first Thanksgiving, which I heard from my Uncle Dwight. He was the “funny” uncle, the one that would often show up at our house wearing a muddy, orange jumpsuit with stenciled numbers on the back. Plus, he always drank sodas from a paper bag.
Whatever the case, in keeping with the season, I’d like to share the story with you today. It might not be exactly how I remember it, but it’s how I want to remember it.
THE FIRST THANKSGIVING
As you know, Native Americans were already living in what we now call the United States at the time of the first Thanksgiving. Back then, it was just called Native America.
This changed when the Pilgrims, who were tired of living under the tyrannical rule of King LeBron James and Marie Antoinette, decided to leave for the new world, so they loaded up on three ships – the Nina, Pinto and Santa Lucia, and made their way to Plymouth Rock. Once there, and with the help of the Mayflower moving company, they unloaded all their stuff.
The head Pilgrim was John Smith, a soldier, explorer, governor (and later kicker for the New England Patriots). At first he was disliked by some of the Native Americans, and at some point they wanted to kill him because he talked a lot and was boring as hell.
But just as one of the Native American leaders was about to hit him in the head with a lacrosse stick, Pocahontas intervened.
Pocahontas was later portrayed eloquently – and I’ll go so far as to say accurately – in that Disney movie where she hung out with a talking hummingbird and Mel Gibson, who we now know is an asshole.
Not sure what happened next, but the Pilgrims and Native Americans finally started getting along, so much so that Smith and Pocahontas even dated briefly. (Things never got serious, though, and they stayed friends right up until she got married to a guy who dealt in tobacco. His name was, I believe, R.J. Reynolds).
The Pilgrims and Native Americans decided to celebrate their newfound friendship with a feast, and figured they’d hold it on Thursday in late November to coincide with NFL games involving the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys.
The menu at the first Thanksgiving featured turkey, cornbread stuffing, sweet peas, squash casserole, green beans, mac and cheese, garlic mashed potatoes, tater tots, Vienna sausages, cranberry sauce (the good kind from the can), buttermilk biscuits, crescent rolls, Red Lobster-style cheddar biscuits, giblet gravy, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, Pringles and Easy Cheese.
Hot dogs were made available for the children.
(Vegetarians and vegans were out of luck because, in those days, neither the Pilgrims nor Native Americans went for that shit.)
Anyway, this was all held at the pavilion at the Plymouth Rock Community Center, and it was truly a special time for everyone involved. The kids jumped rope and played kickball together, while the adults decided that diversity would be their strength, even though the Native Americans were from Native America, and the Pilgrims were from Pilgrimia.
This ritual was held every year for decades, but lost some of its luster when Wal-Mart began having Black Friday sales on Thursday. And according to the literature, the town’s only Arby’s location was open half a day on Thanksgiving, so a lot of people ate there as a change of pace.
Needless to say, the holiday has changed much in the billions of years since the Pilgrims and Native Americans first broke bread.
But my hope to you and yours is that on this Thanksgiving if you break bread, someone is there to fix it.