We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. -Cynthi Ozick
Tomorrow is one of my favorite holidays, when many of us gather to celebrate food, family, and friends.
Almost 400 years ago, 50 English Colonists and more than 90 Wampanoag Indians started the tradition when they shared an autumn harvest meal of wild fowl together. Want to learn more about their celebration? You may enjoy this Virtual Field Trip back to 1621. It’s an entertaining and educational 30-minute video created for students by Scholastic and Plymoth Plantation, a bicultural living history museum in Massachusetts.
It’s also a field trip in simple living. You’ll tour a reproduction of the settlers’ small thatched-roof wooden cabins, which were furnished with narrow beds and open-flame fire pits for cooking. These austere dwellings probably felt luxurious to the settlers after they lived on the freezing-cold Mayflower through their first winter. You’ll also hear what it was like to play, eat, sleep and live as a Wampanoag and a colonist, as well as what history tells us about the harvest celebration, where the two cultures came together and probably shared corn, venison, fish, and pumpkin.
Sadly the harmony between these cultures didn’t last. Native Americans across the United States were subjected to years of violence and discrimination, and many still observe Thanksgiving as a National Day of Mourning. Other people argue that it should become a National Day of Atonement. But it’s worth taking a trip back to that cold New England autumn when two peoples with different customs came together in goodwill to celebrate.
One thing I’m particularly thankful for this Thanksgiving is you. Thanks for reading this year and for sharing this space with me. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments and emails and getting to know many of you. I hope you have a happy holiday. I’ll be back here next week.