November 21, 2018
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
Thanksgiving Wishes to All – The First Thanksgiving Was in Virginia, not Massachusetts
In addition to wishing each of you and your families a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving, I will pass on to you today some “real” history.
For as long as most of us can recall, via our schools, those special television programs, handed-down lore, and overwhelming commercialization the Thanksgiving holiday has been thought of as a kind of commemoration in family and with friends of what is called “the First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, Massachusetts,” held by those revered “Pilgrim Fathers” (I suppose today in this age of political correctness we should probably say “Pilgrim men, women, transgenders, and transsexuals”…although, as far as I know no fancy Harvard feminist historian has yet unearthed any proof that any of those rather stern religious Pilgrims was anything but traditional by current standards; but I’m not holding my breath!).
A bit later I share with you something on this story, for it is not exactly correct.
In family, as I remember my early Thanksgivings, we assembled to give thanks, first to Almighty God for the blessings, even the rather meager ones, we had received, for our health, for a good harvest and for the goodness of creation, and, most of all, for family. Only surpassed perhaps by Christmas (or our respective birthdays), Thanksgiving was a time when those sweet and delicious smells coming out of mother’s (and grandmother’s) kitchen tempted us with anticipation. The women—usually several generations, maybe including aunts and cousins—worked tirelessly to create some amazing and sumptuous dishes for our repast. Usually there was a grand turkey, baked with maybe stuffing inside, or perhaps yams; and there was baked ham also (some relatives always preferred it, but only a few!). And then, in addition to the stuffing, there was always an assortment of "side" items—corn, maybe on the cob; homemade mashed potatoes (I liked mine a little lumpy); corn and bread pudding; string beans (that had been canned just the summer before); and sometimes some salads, sometimes really fancy congealed ones.
And who can forget those desserts? The chess and chocolate pies and coconut cakes, the scrumptious puddings? Sometimes we had specially-made pastries and cookies—they usually took a long time to make, but, my, what tasty delights. I can until this day taste the homemade gingerbread and sugar cookies, fresh from the oven.
While the women cooked and prepared, the menfolk would gather in another room, some smoking cigars or pipes, with heavy conversation, either about how things had gone on during the recent harvest, or maybe about politics (those things strictly limited to men, not for the women).
And we children? Well, if it were a nice day and not too cold, we played outside, maybe hide-and-seek or some other such game. The older boys would often play touch football, even occasionally a few hoops.
But when the dinner call came, usually from grandmother, all of us—men and children—would hurry to the dining room where we all had assigned places. For the smaller children there was usually a separate table, and only when we children reached a certain age, usually around thirteen or so, were we permitted to sit at the adult table—and then not to speak unless spoken to or invited to by an adult. We knew that and we respected it, and in many ways we treasured that custom. We understood that in family there was and must be a hierarchy.
After the blessing, usually given by granddad, or sometimes by my father, and on one or two occasions, by special request, by one of the children, everyone enjoyed the gracious meal which might well last a considerable part of the afternoon.
I remember that afterwards the men would sometimes take a walk, inviting us children to accompany them…walking off the weight, my grandmother would say, although I never witnessed much reduction in anyone’s waistline.
The one thing that was impressed on us was this: we were thankful and grateful for our family, for our country and our inherited beliefs, and for the goodness that God had granted us. I never forgot that meaning, and it remains with me today, many decades after those childhood memories were formed.
My wish, then, for each of you is that your Thanksgiving be a blessed one, in family and with friends, and that through the fellowship and the breaking of bread together we acknowledge the great gifts vouchsafed us from Our Lord.
A very happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you all and your families!
Lastly, as I wrote at the beginning of this installment of MY CORNER, over the years Thanksgiving has been associated with Plymouth and the Pilgrims. But leave it to our northern brethren to appropriate the holiday while ignoring the reality that the very first Thanksgiving was held near Jamestown, Virginia, before those “Pilgrim Fathers” ever assembled. And I pass on a well-documented item that offers some remarkable insight on this topic. I think you’ll find it quite interesting:
The First Thanksgiving Took Place in Virginia, not Massachusetts
WRITTEN BY MATT BLITZ | PUBLISHED
Years of elementary school history lessons taught us that Plymouth, Massachusetts, was the site of the first Thanksgiving. Those lessons were false. A year and 17 days before those Pilgrims ever stepped foot upon New England soil, a group of English settlers led by Captain John Woodlief landed at today’s Berkeley Plantation, 24 miles southwest of Richmond. After they arrived on the shores of the James River, the settlers got on their knees and gave thanks for their safe passage. There was no traditional meal, no lovefest with Native Americans, no turkey. America’s first Thanksgiving was about prayer, not food. That came later….