Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Dinner tonight was quick and simple: whole wheat penne with cherry tomatoes, garlic and spinach in a gorgonzola cream sauce. Both girls ate without complaint. Later, saying goodnight to the Peanut, she got a dreamy look and said "I can't wait for Thanksgiving dinner... of course we won't have tomatoes or spinach with Thanksgiving dinner."

Hm. Actually, Peanut, that can be arranged. Mwahahahaha.

Nah, I wouldn't. Those little onions in cream sauce that her Daddy loves so much -- he is peeling them as I write, and I can smell them from here -- will be surprise enough.
Those little creamed onions some people dig so much.
Photo by Lisa Scanlon, Mr. S's are bound to be similar.

Anyway, I'm not cooking this Thanksgiving. We will be over the river -- that is, several rivers and a honkin' canal -- and through the woods, to spend a couple of days with family in Connecticut. My sister in law pulls off Thanksgiving like it is no big deal, which just amazes me. Even when I enjoy doing it, it always feels like a Big Deal. I admire how she makes it look effortless; truly doesn't stress, and the more family around, the better.

We have much to be thankful for, this year as always. High on the list of Important Things I hope to teach my children is to be grateful -- for family and friends, house and home, good health and good food -- and mindful, too, that so many others don't have these things to be thankful for.

Based on reports back from the Bean, the story of the First Thanksgiving appears to have been kept pretty simple in school, which is fine. Basically, she understands that the Pilgrims came to this land, met the Native Americans, and at first the groups weren't sure about each other but the Indians taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn, and they had a turkey and corn dinner together to celebrate.

In the car tomorrow (captive audience!), we might talk a bit more about what it must have been like. I'll tell her they also ate deer, and ducks, and probably fish; that all of it was cooked over fires, and that people ate with their fingers, sitting on the ground. Oh, and they didn't have pie. Or indoor plumbing.

We'll leave it at that, even though having just read Mayflower, I've had Pilgrims on my mind lately. Says Nathaniel Philbrick:
The First Thanksgiving marked the conclusion of a remarkable year. Eleven months earlier the Pilgrims had arrived at the tip of Cape Cod, fearful and uninformed. They had spent the next month alienating and angering every Native American they happened to come across. By all rights, none of the Pilgrims should have emerged from the first winter alive. Like the French sailors before them, they all might have been either killed or taken captive by the Indians.

That it had worked out differently was a testament not only to the Pilgrims' grit, resolve and faith, but to their ability to take advantage of an extraordinary opportunity. During the winter of 1621, the survival of the English settlement had been in the balance. Massasoit's decision to offer them assistance had saved the Pilgrims' lives in the short term, but there had already been several instances in which the sachem's generosity could all have gone for naught. Placing their faith in God, the Pilgrims might have insisted on a policy of arrogant isolationism. But by becoming an active part of the diplomatic process in southern New England... they had taken charge of their own destiny in the region.
Granted, their destiny included King Philip's War just a few years after this, but hey, it was a good start.

Another thing to be thankful for this year: a change in our government, and hope that some of the world's conflicts might be better managed because of it.

Happy Thanksgiving, all, and safe travels.

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