Friday, November 27, 2009

day two -- and counting

Today I felt the Newtonian tug of nostalgia.

I mentioned yesterday that Thanksgiving is -- by far -- my favorite holiday. The day that should be spent with family and friends.

Lacking any local family members, I celebrated the holiday with acquaintances from our local church. We share
no memories bittersweet with time, as I would with my family or old friends. But, after dining for almost three hours, I certainly have the foundation of good friendships.

Earlier in the day, I must have been suffering from post-stimulation withdrawal of the cruise-Disneyland trip. While walking through the village, I realized I was simply bored.

Part of that was the realization that I was not sharing Thanksgiving with my family. I solved that by calling several people today.

But the dinner also proved there are people wherever we go who can help us share our joy and burdens.

For that we can be thankful.

Every year some postmodern smart-alec journalist tries to impress us with the shocking news that our teachers lied to us in grade school. The rap is the pilgrims did not celebrate the first Thanksgiving in what would eventually be the United States.

I have yet to meet anyone who ever heard a teacher say any such thing. Journalists often confuse straw arguments with reality. The implication being that the earlier Thanksgiving did not comply with the Puritan Myth -- being celebrated by Catholics and Anglicans, you see.

But here are the facts.

On September 8, 1565 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and 800 Spanish settlers founded the settlement of St. Augustine in what would be Florida. The landing party celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving. Menéndez then laid out a meal and invited members of the Seloy tribe to participate.

In 1619, the English settlers at Berkley Plantation, Virginia celebrated a modest Thanksgiving on the banks of the James River -- a task they were obligated to perform by their charter, and executed with all the enthusiasm of a 13-year old boy cleaning his room. Considering the civil problems of the settlement, they were probably thankful they had not throttled each other.

On April 30, 1598, early Spanish settlers held a Thanksgiving ceremony and mass in the city of El Paso, Texas. That is them at the top of the post -- just hanging out together in artistic order.

The pilgrims, who obviously had a far better public relations department than the Spanish or the Virginians, did not celebrate their Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation until 1621 -- where they handed out construction paper pumpkins and turkeys to Indians who looked as if they had just stopped in from the American plains.

What those four celebrations had in common is that each group had faced long odds and thanked God for their survival.

Which group was first is irrelevant. They were thankful. And we should be, as well.

Without their derring-do, we might be eating our turkey somewhere in the depths of Lower Silesia.


Rick said...

History and Thanksgiving:
Steve here is a VERY interesting theory -,0,2173009.story


- Mexican Trailrunner said...

You know, Steve, we have families of origin - and we have families we have chosen.
Here in Mexico, I have my family of choice. . .and you know what? I think I prefer them over the ones I inherited.

Unknown said...

It’s all your fault. I ate massive quantities of food yesterday. The reason was simple. You were not hear so I felt it was my responsibility to eat your share (as well as my own) of the Thanksgiving spread.
We all missed you and wished you could have been here. The fact that you were not here didn't stop us from recounting stories about you, especially since you weren’t here to defend yourself.

Anonymous said...

Having been born in Lower Silesia, I take great umbrage at your demeaning reference to this great country, a reference implying that anyone forced to live there would be living in a hell on earth.

We Silesians are a proud people, and we too have our "nostalgic" feelings for our own personal memories of challenge and loss.

This derring-do you refer to, I think, is too sadly the age-old impetus of a crooked creature to want to take what others have by force. The proper prayer would be: "Thank you, Heavenly Father, for having given us the strength and temerity to pillage and rape those weaker than ourselves."

Perhaps this is the sort of material from which you can build a magnificent temple of heroism. I can't.

As for me, nothing short of the mark of shame can be ascribed to such derring-do.

What ancient force of nature moves through matter to create such hideous moral compromises, I can only guess.

In the end, whether Silesian, American, or Indonesian, we small humans struggle to survive with as much dignity and hope as possible, no matter our natural location. There is not a thimble-full of moral difference between our many singular struggles.

No, Thanksgiving Day is nothing more than a spectacle of the very weak expressing their terrified relief that great forces, indifferent to their continued existence, have managed to let them live another day.

This sort of emotion is hardly what I would call noble, and it certainly cannot deserve the sort of mawkish tribute you wish to give it, the status of Silesians notwithstanding.

Petrum Kohlowatz

Lower Silesia Chamber of Commerce said...

It is a special region of numerous possibilities, attractions and opportunities. There are a number of large artificial lakes as well as interesting waterfalls. Large parts are forested. The landscape is picturesque and varied. In the southern part of the region there are beautiful and high mountains. It is also famous for its flora and rare species of animals. Two national parks and nine landscape parks are the testimony of the region's beauty. The climate is most moderate.

You want adventure? Come visit us.

Submitted in protest.

PS. Happy TG + 1.

Steve Cotton said...

Rick -- Predestined by Predestination, as it were.

Darrel -- Well, I ate my share down here. And I still have one more to go today.

LSCofC -- But far less crowded now that the 300 million of us are out of your hair.

Petrum -- I see that the Anger Management classes are not as succesful as they should be. Your tongue is undoubtedly deeply embedded in your cheek. I have seldom seen the Leftist Rage skewered so well in parody. Some folks simply prefer Angstgiving to Thanksgiving.