Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Blog Entry

I’d be remiss if I didn’t write you a little something for Thanksgiving, seeing as I went overboard on the Veteran’s Day post. But… Veterans are so worth it, aren’t they?

So is Thanksgiving. It is in that spirit that I rush this post. Just in case you log in and want something to read, but also because my collaborator will be celebrating Thanksgiving with his kith and kin and thus will not be available to post this for me.

I will not be celebrating Thanksgiving with kith or kin this year. I’ve opted to be thousands of miles from any kith or kin I have and furthermore, China does not even have a holiday that approximates Thanksgiving. Thus they are thirsty for any knowledge of this holiday; all they really know is that Americans eat turkey on that day. I am truly put upon to explain to my students about the spirit of Thanksgiving: how people came to the New World and 2/3 of them died within the first year (that would be 1620). How it was the Natives (the Wampanoag Tribe) who helped the Pale Faces survive that first year by showing them what could and could not be eaten in the New World. How, even though the Pale Faces wanted to have this wonderful feast to thank the Natives, they didn’t have enough food so the Natives produced food from their own supplies and a feast was had. That feast consisted of corn, nuts, venison, squash and beans - nothing like what we consider a traditional Thanksgiving dinner today.

I daresay that, if you were to serve your guests the above listed menu, you just might be thankful you don’t end up in the hospital with broken bones and a severe concussion. Your kith might only leave the house in a huff, but your kin is liable to pound on you judiciously. Because I care deeply about you, I recommend you stick to what is commonly known as a traditional menu: turkey and all the trimmings.

Interesting factoid: the Wampanoag usually ate their meals while sitting down on the ground, but in the interest of not clashing cultures, they sat at the tables with their hosts. The Wampanoag women joined their men at the table, but the Pilgrims refused to bend tradition: their womenfolk stood behind their men as the men ate. Women ate what was left.

Now you guys know why women are so intent of serving leftovers: it is a throwback to those good ol’days when we had to stand back and watch you eat all the good stuff. You have thus been cursed with being served leftovers until women stop being in charge of the kitchen. Depending on your feelings about leftovers, that is a good or a bad thing.

Back to Thanksgiving. One of my favorite questions to ask, usually as you have a mouthful of mashed potatoes, is: what are you thankful for?

Just because there is nary a kith or a kin of mine in sight, that does not mean that I’ve ceased to be thankful. Quite to the contrary: I am more grateful and more sincerely thankful for the bounty in my life than perhaps I’ve ever been. True I have virtually no material goods to my name and what would appear to be only minimal creature comforts but, my friends… how I’m rich!

· Every time I log into my email account and see that one of you has sent me something.
· Every time I step in front of the classroom to teach these kids who are so eager to learn.
· Every time I log into Skype and talk with my precious grandson.
· Every time I reach into my pocket and there is money for me to spend.
· Every time I wake up feeling healthy and vital.
· Every time I have not only the privilege of good food, but the choice of what I will eat.
· Every time I lay down in a warm, comfortable bed.
· Every time I have the strength and the courage to do a good deed.
· Every time I enjoy a friend’s company, even long-distance.
· Every time I hear my daughter’s slightly cautious ‘Hello?’ on the phone

I realize my riches. And my list of things to be thankful for goes on and on. It is indeed too long for me to list here.

Don Henley (of the Eagles) has a song titled My Thanksgiving. It is a great song; thoughtful and reflective on a life well lived. I strongly urge you to take a listen to it; it is on YouTube. For me it is very hard to pick the most significant lyrics from this song, but with regard to Thanksgiving the ones that sum up my feelings the best are:

For every moment of joy
Every hour of fear
For every winding road that brought me here
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for?

I wish you and yours a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

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