I like to think that the Pilgrims and American Indians at the first
Thanksgiving fretted about the guest list beforehand and complained
about the food afterward. That way, the grousing, bickering, and
nitpicking that Jessica and I do during the holidays would not fall
into the category of, say, Malcontents or Ingrates, but instead
into the category of Traditionalists.
Aspects of the first Thanksgiving in 1621 were different from, and
decidedly better than, our current celebration. First, it was held
in October, not November. October is a much better month for a
feast than November. The harvest is fresher and the weather is
milder. Because it just makes sense, I propose they move
Thanksgiving to October where it belongs and move Halloween to
Not only that, I propose they make it longer. The first
Thanksgiving was held over three days, not just in an afternoon.
The guests dined not only on wild turkey, but on geese, ducks,
venison, lobsters, oysters, and fish. The contemporary Thanksgiving
of a couple of hours over a dinner of a domesticated turkey and
maybe a processed ham is lame by comparison. My proposal is to
bring back the three-day Thanksgiving. We could phase it in
gradually, going to two days first. I'm flexible.
But I believe that there is one thing we shouldn't change: carping.
I imagine that, being human and all, the Pilgrims and Indians, at
the conclusion of their three-day gorgefest did what we do today -
critiqued the meal.
"Can you believe how dry the white meat was?" I imagine an Indian
saying to a friend as they walk home through the woods among the
fading colors of fall.
"Thank goodness for gravy, if you know what I'm sayin',â" the
friend replies. "Oh, and what was that lime-green rubber thing?"
"I think they called it a Jell-O mold."
"Some European delicacy, I guess."
"With delicacies like that, no wonder they left home."