Joe Doakes from Como Park writes:
I miss Pilgrims.
When I was a kid, we learned about Thanksgiving in school. We learned the Pilgrims came to America and made friends with the wise Indians who showed them how to plant fish heads with their corn. Later, the Pilgrims invited the Indians to come over for a turkey dinner as thanks for their help – the First Thanksgiving. We colored pictures of women in dresses and bonnets holding turkey platters, shirtless Indians wearing feathered headdresses, and men wearing tall black hats with buckles on the front and a blunderbuss over their shoulders. I always liked the sound of that: blunderbuss. I still want one. Every store on Main Street had a Pilgrim in the window and gave away a turkey prize. Nobody I knew watched football games – we rode in the station wagon to Grandma’s house to visit. Grandma said the same prayer before dinner every year until she died. Now my Mom prays it, exactly the same.
Okay, the story we learned was not complete or even particularly accurate. But it’s one of the few bits of American history every kid of my generation knew by heart, one of the few plots of common ground on which an entire nation stood together. Every family celebrated Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is disappearing. Menards has had Christmas stuff displayed for weeks. KOOL 108 is starting to sneak Christmas songs into the rotation in anticipation of going all-Christmas-all-the-time starting Black Friday – the day retailers put their ledgers in the black by selling so much stuff – which is the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is no longer a major holiday. Thanksgiving is that little town nobody goes to anymore, now that the freeway goes around it on the way to Christmas.
Some of us remember. Some of us will make a point of taking our kids to that little town to visit Grandma, to share turkey, to say a prayer to thank God for the good things we have and for the good things yet to come. Some of us remember Pilgrims and why they were important.
I miss Pilgrims.
As I’ve written (quite a few times, in fact), Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.
But Joe’s right. Why give thanks when you expect it all anyway?