When Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast in 1621 – often considered the “First Thanksgiving” – there were more than a few overwhelming obstacles the early dinner guests had to overcome:
The pilgrims had just recently spent 66 days and 2,750 miles on a crowded Mayflower voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. It was an excursion laden with leaky boats, seasickness, disease, fierce storms and a miscalculated course that left them 600 miles from their original destination.
The “first” feast lasted three days, and was reportedly attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.
The two factions of fall-harvest frolickers didn’t speak the same language, making friendly table conversation more than a little challenging. Chances are, no one brought board games or a deck of cards to pass the time. And, undoubtedly, the selection of Thanksgiving Day football bowl games was severly limited.
When it came down to the actual feast, not only were there no “sign-up” sheets to determine who would bring cranberry sauce and who would bring green-bean casserole, the two different ethnic groups had very little insight into what the other liked to feast upon. This inevitably caused a potentially awkward scene — especially if no one touched Squanto’s corn and squash casserole.
It wasn’t long before the Pilgrims and Native Americans stopped sharing dinners and began killing each other. It’s an unfortunate tradition that continues between various ethnic and religious groups around the world today; apparently we still haven’t learned how to tolerate each other.
And, while there are very few “warring factions” around Homer these days, many of us undeniably still find ways to avoid sharing holiday dinners with those in need; let alone with family.
This year, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day; a phenomenon that won’t happen again for another 79,043 years. Perhaps this is the perfect time to go ahead and reach out to others, regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, monetary worth or social standing in the community.
If you don’t feel especially comfortable sharing your Thanksgiving dinner with someone other than friends and close family, you can still keep the whole “giving” theme alive by donating to, or getting involved, in various philanthropic efforts around the community this holiday season.
And be thankful for the many priveleges we take for granted as Americans. Several of our brothers and sisters will spend this holiday season overseas, away from family, protecting the multitude of things for which we should all be thankful.
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