I have nothing against Thanksgiving. Really. Any holiday that has pie as its main export is all right with me.
That said, I think Thanksgiving, as a major holiday, would have fallen completely by the wayside, trumped badly by, say, Valentine’s Day (mmm – chocolate), if not for the dedication of grade-school teachers across our great nation.
Seriously, I think the primary grades are almost wholly responsible for the fact that anyone even understands the “true meaning” of Thanksgiving anymore. It is not, as you might believe, about kicking off the Christmas shopping season.
No, that’s what Labor Day is for.
Meaning. Thanksgiving is about remembering those that helped make our land what it is today. It is about being grateful for all who went before us, enduring hardships and uncertainties with only blind conviction and unshakable faith to guide them. Or, so my first-grader tells me.
Me, I kind of thought it had something to do with pilgrims and pie, but it’s been a few years since I was in grade school, so really, it has all gotten a bit hazy.
I do know it’s about Jell-O, though. Definitely Jell-O with, perhaps, some green bean casserole on the side. On that, we can surely agree. See? Peace and harmony already.
Corn. Freshly inspired by her first grade experience, our six-year-old recently presented me with five tiny kernels of Indian corn cradled in her palm. With all the seriousness of the newly indoctrinated, she proceeded to tell me of the bitter deprivation of the earliest pioneers to this, our then new, land.
She was alight with the wonder of people surviving that first winter on hardscrabble soil with only these few grains to keep them until the Indians came along.
She relayed grave tales of people – children even – who had to eat just one little kernel for breakfast, another for lunch, one for dinner and the final two “for snack.” And, it wasn’t even microwave pop-able Indian corn, either!
Bugs. Seeing an ironclad opportunity to use her pilgrim zeal for my own benefit, I seized the opportunity to tie this five-kernel-a-day diet in with her own need to clean her dinner plate.
Surely, those Pilgrims would have been beside themselves with joy over taco night! So, couldn’t she see her way to actually ingesting just one little burrito? Even a nibble maybe? After all, there were pilgrim children starving in China, er, you know, something like that. This was all on the fly, so I was still working the bugs out.
She was, for the record, unmoved by my theory. Not willing to give up without a fight, I flung myself headlong into this “teachable moment” with abandon. Conjuring up images of people huddling for warmth near open fires with only the most rudimentary log cabins for shelter, I waxed rhapsodic about all our earliest adventurers went without, compared to our cushy modern-day lives.
I even threw in, for good measure, how long ago this was. Why, it was back in the day of her great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great- (you get the idea – math has never been my subject, but suffice to say it was a LOT of greats) grandparents’ time. Clearly, I was getting somewhere with this kid.
Wide-eyed. At this moment, my darling – a precious little sponge soaking up all my wisdom and knowledge – looked at me wide-eyed and said, with absolute seriousness, “So how old were you then mommy?”
I think, back in the day, children were seen and not heard, were they not? Clearly, the pilgrims had no idea what they were missing.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt was not, contrary to popular belief, at the first Thanksgiving. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460 or http://userweb.epohi.com/~kseabolt.)
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