Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Turkeys made from construction paper, pilgrim’s hats made from construction paper, and maize made from construction paper. We have been celebrating the first Thanksgiving since we were little kids. Also, what’s the deal with construction paper? Was it really invented by construction workers? I would like to see them on the construction site using different colored paper to sketch out their plans with crayon.
Anyway, we always talk about the first Thanksgiving and how the pilgrims and the Native Americans came together and shared a meal. Great, it sounds very utopian. We also all know about what happened in the future, how the white man drove the Native Americans away from their land so we could eventually have things like Arby’s. What has been lost to history is the 7th Thanksgiving. You know, where the pilgrims and the Native Americans were more of a family, who only got together a couple times a year, and had built up baggage. Tell me about that.
The Story of the 7th Thanksgiving
Paul and Chastity Smith, two pilgrims are preparing for Thanksgiving in their small home. Chastity is in the kitchen while Paul is on the porch.
Chastity: Paul, we don’t have enough wood in the fire, there needs to be more wood in the fire.
Paul: What? Oh, okay. I was watching the dogs wrestle.
Chastity: I don’t care, we need to get the fire hotter if we want the turkey to be done by 1:00.
Paul: But it’s almost halftime, one second.
Chastity: Now, I need it now, we have a lot of people coming over and we can’t be late with the turkey.
Paul: What does it matter? The Willinghams are always late.
Peter Willingham, his wife marry and 4 boys are now standing right in front of Paul.
Paul: Oh gosh, I’m sorry Peter, I was just joki…
Peter: It’s alright buddy, we are usually late, due to this one right here.
Mary slaps Peter.
Peter: I keep telling her to hurry up, ‘the Smith’s don’t care what you look like, there are only 200 people in our village, who see you everyday, and chances are you’re going to wear your bonnet anyway.’ Guess what she wore? You guessed it, her bonnet. What can I say buddy? Women, huh?”
Paul: Yeah, I understand. I made the mistake of letting Chastity make herself another dress. Do you know how many she has now? 2! For crying out loud, we can’t make it out of the house on time anymore.
The boys run off to sit and watch the dogs wrestle, while the adults walk in the house.
Paul: How was the drive in?
Peter: I tell you what, the road was a mess. We would have gotten here earlier, but we got stuck behind an old lady riding a mule for nearly the entire way, I swear, I don’t know how she even saw over the reins. Plus, the mule’s tail kept signaling a left turn, but never turned.
Paul: A mule, huh?
Chastity’s mother, Constance, walks in.
Chastity: Oh, mother, good to see you.
Constance: Yes, yes, good to see you. I had to park my mule around back.
Paul and Peter look at each other. Peter nods.
Constance: I don’t think your small cabin is going to fit everyone. It will be just like last year.
Paul: Constance, it’s big enough.
Constance: I still don’t understand why you married a settler.
Paul: We’re all settlers!
Constance: Some are more successful than others.
More family arrives with more children filling the cabin. There is a loud din of noise while children play, the women cook, and the men try to shoo away the kids from walking in front of the dogs wrestling. The food is just about ready as they wait for one more family.
Paul: I say we just start without them. I don’t even like maize or squash. We told them what time it started, they should know that if they aren’t here in time then we just start.
Chastity: Paul, we’re waiting. They’re practically family.
Paul: Practically, exactly. I’m legitimately hungry.
Chastity: Chief Massasoit and his family have meant a lot to us, their very generous.
Paul: Oh, that’s another thing, I’m not calling him Chief. Big deal, he got promoted.
Chastity: It is a big deal to him, you know he’s worked hard for that.
The door creaks open and two hands pop through holding maize. Nobody notices. The hands rustle the husks to make noise, still nobody notices. From behind the door there is muffled chatter.
Alaqua: Honey, just go in, it’s cold.
Massasoit: No way, I want to make an entrance.
Squanto: Seriously, man, just open the door.
Massasoit: Fine, fine.
The Native American family walks in with their kids in tow.
Massasoit: Guess who brought maize! Hello everybody.
Everyone greets and hugs them as they file in.
Paul reaches out his hand.
Paul: Mr. Massasoit, good to see you.
Massasoit ignores him.
Paul: Hellooo, Massasoit.
Peter: Try Chief.
Paul rolls his eyes.
Paul: Uh, Chief Massasoit, greetings.
Massasoit: Oh, hello Paul, happy Thanksgiving!
Squanto joins the others watching the dogs wrestle.
Peter: You like dog wrestling?
Squanto: Not really, I mean, if it’s on in front of me I’ll watch it. I’m more of a lacrosse man. Lacrosse, now there’s a sport!
Back inside the women are talking while they finish up the cooking.
Chastity: Oh, this is stressful hosting every year.
Constance: When I was your age we used to have twice as many people over for Thanksgiving and we got by just fine, just fine.
Chastity: Mom, Thanksgiving is seven years old, it wasn’t around yet.
Constance: I guess I’m thinking of Christmas.
Alaqua: Well, if you want, we would be happy to host next year.
Massasoit overhears from the other room.
Massasoit: Yeah, we could have everyone over.
Paul: You? There’s no way everyone could fit in your place, plus it’s made out of hide. How many square feet do you have?
Massasoit: We have a huge yard.
Paul: That’s just because you don’t believe in private property.
Massasoit: We could spread out over the whole Great Forest.
Eventually, everything is set. The food covers the length of the long table and all the adults have a seat. To their surprise, their is not enough room for the kids.
Peter: I have an idea! What if we had a separate table just for the kids?
Massasoit: That’s a great idea!
Peter: Yeah, we’ll call it the kid’s table.
They grab another, crappier table for the kids and set it up in the corner.
Squanto: I’m not sitting there.
Alaqua: There isn’t any room here.
Squanto: I’m 19!
Massasoit: Sit down with your cousins, they really look up to you.
Squanto sits. His knees are higher than the table.
Chastity: Alright, let’s say grace. Mother, do you want to say it again this year?
Massasoit: Can it be a little more tolerant and open minded this year? We’re not all Puritans.
Constance: This country’s going to hell in a hand basket. Next, they’re going to take God out of schools, will see where that leads. We need to take our country back.
Massasoit: Excuse me?
They get through the prayer and are enjoying a good meal.
Chastity: This squash is delightful, what is the secret Alaqua? I must get the recipe.
Alaqua: It’s all about when you harvest it, it has to be harvested at the right time. Oh, and I add a little brown sugar right at the end.
Massasoit: Isn’t it great. I tell you what, I wouldn’t be able to be a good chief if I didn’t have this one at home.
Chastity: Well, before you leave, I must get the recipe.
Massasoit: Just last week I had a tribe member ask me if it’s difficult to be in charge of so many people. I said, ‘Not everyone can be chief, it takes a special person.’”
Paul: We get it, we get it, you’re a chief. Congrats, you’ve been a chief for 3 months.
Massasoit: 3 and a half months.
Constance: I’m impressed, it takes a lot of hard work.
Things immediately get tense.
Paul: Oh, of course you’re impressed, Constance, of course you are. Why do you have to rub everything in?
Chastity: Honey, this is not the time or place.
Paul: I’m tired of your little backhanded comments. We all understand, you’ve never liked me, that’s fine because you know what? I’ve never liked you.
Chastity gasps, while Constance puts her hand over her heart looking hurt.
Massasoit: Hey, Paul…
Paul: What? You’re not the chief in my house, so don’t even try to tell me what to do. I’m tired of hearing about all the supposedly great things that you’re doing. You are not better than anyone and it’s time someone told you that.
Massasoit: Oh yeah?! Oh yeah?! You don’t think I notice? Do you think I’m blind? I know that every month you chop down more trees on the edge of my forest expanding your yard. Little by little. I know what you’re up to, you’re trying to take my land. I’m on to you.
Paul: So now the truth is out. The gloves are off!
Massasoit: First, I don’t think that the gloves are off is a saying yet. Secondly…
Paul: I don’t care, stop correcting people, everyone hates it. Right Peter?
Peter looks down at his gravy.
Paul: And you know what? How about you socialize your kids a little!
Chastity: Don’t bring the kid into this.
Paul: All the other kids are playing, while your daughter is in the corner just looking down at the blackberry in her hand.
Massasoit: She likes fruit, I let my kids be who they want to be.
Paul: I bet if you got rid of her blackberry she would do much better.
Massasoit: Bet? We don’t believe in gambling.
Paul: Whatever you say, savage!
Massasoit: Oh yeah, invader!
Everyone is sitting in stunned silence trying not to make eye contact as the food gets cold.
Paul: Feather hat!
Massasoit: Belt hat!
Paul: Indian! And I say that, hoping that one day it will be offensive.
Massasoit: Puritan! And, I say that, hoping it will one day be offensive in certain contexts.
Paul: Then you can just leave!
The room remains quiet as Massasoit, Alaqua, and their children gather their things and walk out the front door. They close the door and the silence remains. No one is moving.
Squanto: So, since they left, can I sit at the adult table now?
It was on the 7th Thanksgiving that the tradition of tenuous family relationships boiling over from passive aggressiveness to loud awkward arguing was begun. This Thanksgiving, when Uncle Chuck screams and walks out of the room, don’t be sad, just remember that you are having Thanksgiving in the traditional way, just like the pilgrims and Native Americans, and we all know how that worked out.