Last year the media went into a frenzy over the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival in North America, but the festivities were just beginning.
This Thanksgiving marks four centuries since the 1621 harvest festival held by the half of the Plymouth Colony that survived that cruel first winter.
(“Forget corn mazes and hayrides! I’m bobbing for antibiotics!”)
What a milestone! Even though our gaiety may be muted by acknowledgment of the injustices done to indigenous peoples since that fateful shared meal, this still calls for a large-scale commemoration.
Perhaps you could ponder the 400 greatest Thanksgiving-related quotations, such as “Pumpkin spice isn’t everything; it’s the only thing” or “God must have loved the common man, because he made so many ways to re-gift fruitcake” or “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent telling your mother-in-law that your daughter’s sleazy new beau loves anecdotes about bunions and varicose veins.”
Maybe you could reminisce over the 400 greatest Thanksgiving-related song lyrics, such as “Stairway to the upstairs bedroom where the dog has shed on everyone’s coats,” “You can’t always baste what you want,” “Smells like leftovers spirit,” “I still haven’t found the interstate exit I’m looking for,” and “People get ready, there’s a nap a-comin’.”
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Maybe you could explore the 400 biggest historical inaccuracies in Thanksgiving pageants. The Pilgrims’ menu and the attire of the Native American guests leap to mind immediately, but I’m sure you can find other examples. (You doubtless always harbored suspicions about Great-uncle Bob’s insistence on using blackface to portray the Wampanoag Nation. And his compliments to the cooks, such as “The cranberry sauce was delectable, and the white meat is superior.”)
How about taking a stab at writing down your 400 favorite Thanksgiving memories? Maybe your fondest recollection is of eating with your cousins at the children’s table and boasting about the time when you would be all grown up and could do whatever you wanted — pending the approval of your future spouse, your employer, an assortment of restraining orders and the doctor who is strangely fixated on head-turning and coughing.
Most importantly, try verbalizing 400 things for which you’re thankful. (I’m preparing to launch a year-round thankfulness spot on my Facebook page, “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Please check it out.)
Yes, despite our problems, we have a lot to be thankful for, including electrical appliances, modern plumbing and vast online resources. I mean, sites such as ancestry.com let you trace your illustrious lineage all the way back to New England’s upper crust, all from the comfort of your parents’ basement.
Let’s not forget that the “dressing versus stuffing” holiday war hasn’t involved tactical nukes – yet.
Ah, but many of us take Mother Nature and the marvels of science for granted. Someone could make a fortune opening Ingrates R Us franchises. (“Yeah, well, what have you done for me LATELY, Jonas Salk?”)
Seriously, even those of us who still credit a Supreme Being with our comforts have gotten spoiled by The Way Things Work In the 21st Century.
“Your blessings are very important to us. All our thoughts are currently focused on other things. You’ll get your prayers of thanks when the first spare moment is available. If you’d prefer, you may self-scan our warm wishes.”
Yikes! Anybody compiling a list of the 400 species of locusts waiting to be unleashed on us?
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com.