This was initially posted on December 3, 2012
Thanksgiving evokes deep reminiscence and raises questions on what we’re celebrating, now that we all know the tales we have been advised in regards to the Pilgrims and the Indians are usually not the entire fact about America’s early historical past. I considered all of this as I ready for Thanksgiving this yr and cleaned up for days afterwards.
Though I don’t dwell in America, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with a bunch of associates in my residence in Greece many instances throughout the previous twenty years.
For me, Thanksgiving brings up completely happy recollections of household gatherings in a time when my prolonged household, together with Mother and Dad, brothers, great-aunts and great-uncles, aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins, gathered at Grandma’s to eat turkey with all of the trimmings. Grandma Lena Marie Searing Bergman was not solely an important cook dinner but in addition a wonderful hostess. Her tables have been laden with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, candy potatoes, biscuits with butter and selfmade jam, corn and inexperienced peas, pumpkin and mince pies, and additionally with crystal, china, and silver, and flowers from her backyard.
Uncle Emery, my grandmother’s older brother, advised tales about life on the farm in Michigan, the place they’d a pony and he misplaced components of his fingers in a threshing machine. We youngsters performed croquet within the backyard and ran races throughout it whereas our moms, aunts, and grandmother laid out the feast and cleaned up afterwards. These have been the blessed days earlier than tv and televised soccer video games got here to dominate holidays in the USA. My recollections are laced with the disappointment of understanding that these days are previously.
When my grandmother died, I requested for her silverware, which I’ve used each day since, though she used it solely on particular events. My grandmother’s silver, and china, crystal, and silver I inherited after my mom died, are seen symbols of the bonds I share with my mom and grandmothers.
Whereas cooking got here naturally to my grandmother, it does to not me, as I’ve chosen to focus my energies on different issues. After I was married, my husband did the cooking, whereas I made the salad, set the desk, organized the flowers, and put candles in every single place. That division of labor suited me. In recent times I’ve requested associates to assist me with the Thanksgiving preparations. This yr for a wide range of causes, nobody was obtainable. At first I puzzled if I might cope.
I made a decision to divide up the cooking within the days earlier than the feast: baking and pureeing the pumpkin and measuring and slicing up the corn bread and greens for the stuffing two days prematurely; making the mince and pumpkin pies and candy potato and carrot puree sooner or later prematurely; which would go away me time to complete the stuffing, cook dinner the turkey, bake corn bread, and make chilly apple soup on the day. As I made my preparations, I noticed to my shock that that is precisely what my grandmother and later my mom will need to have carried out. Even they, for whom cooking was simpler than it’s for me, couldn’t presumably have carried out every part on sooner or later.
I lovingly set my desk for twelve throughout the three-day preparation interval, with Grandma’s silver, damask napkins Grandma had embroidered along with her initials, candlesticks from my Nannie, serving items that had come down within the household, crystal that was amongst my marriage ceremony presents, vintage Bavarian china I discovered in a junk retailer over 30 years in the past, delicate identify card holders that have been a present from a particular good friend, and blood pink roses and myrtle leaves from my backyard organized in a ruby crystal bowl.
Earlier than we shared the meal, my associates, Greek, Australian, and British, requested me to clarify what Thanksgiving is. Here’s what I mentioned:
“After we have been younger, we discovered at school that after the British who have been known as Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts, they have been ravenous the primary winter as a result of they didn’t know the brand new land and its meals. The Indians shared the American meals–together with turkeys, corn, corn bread, potatoes, candy potatoes, and cranberries–with the Pilgrims, and this was the primary Thanksgiving.
“What we weren’t advised was that the white immigrants introduced illnesses that killed lots of the Indians and that they later fought the remaining Indians for land and drove them onto reservations.
“The story of the Indians sharing with the Pilgrims might be true,” I added, “as a result of the Indians got here from a gift-giving tradition during which those that had shared with those that didn’t.
“Thanksgiving can also be a harvest competition that celebrates the tip of the harvest when ‘all is safely gathered in, ‘ere the winter storms start.’ So right now we bless the Supply of Life, and the circle of start, demise, and regeneration.
“However for me,” I concluded, “Thanksgiving is most of all a celebration of recollections of household gatherings at my grandmother’s. This yr, you’re my household.”
Whereas making ready the feast that we shared, I understood much more clearly than earlier than, that the Thanksgiving I create is first for the ancestors, and second for my associates. Figuring out that makes Thanksgiving twice significant.
I’m nonetheless fascinated by the generosity of the Indians, and the dearth of generosity of many founding fathers and moms. My grandmother’s Searing ancestors have been among the many first non-natives to settle in Hempstead, Lengthy Island, Saratoga Springs, New York, and Lyons, Michigan. The brand new American immigrants all too typically took with out giving again after which took some extra. This is also my heritage. Telling the reality is just a starting. What could be required of us if we pledged ourselves to restore the net?
Subsequent Thanksgiving, why not take up a set to help Native People residing on reservations. “NativeStock recommends that you just think about donating to a tribe situated inside your State. Google: Native American tribes alongside along with your state of residence and you will see that an inventory of tribal headquarters and their cellphone numbers. Name the tribal workplace and inquire in regards to the tribes museum/cultural heart, aged packages, faculty/school funds or meals drives which are in want of donations. Every now and then tribal officers have known as NativeStock on to request silent public sale objects or particular objects like books, faculty provides, winter coats and canned meals.”