26 November 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have even greater sympathy for the Pilgrim women to whom fell the task of creating the first Thanksgiving feast.

They were charged by their menfolk to create a feast in order to celebrate the goodness and mercy of God. They were alive. They had food. They had homes. Surely it was time to celebrate!

I'm sure the women were just as eager to celebrate. At least some of them must have greeted this task with joy. In the back of their minds were other harvest feasts and other celebrations with family and friends in England and Holland. They must have been so eager to make this new world HOME by celebrating together. I'm sure their mouths watered at the thought of familiar foods.

Then they looked around them. The food in front of them, though plentiful, was not the food they had eaten in England. I would have loved to have heard them as they tried to figure out how to make this unfamiliar food fill the place of traditional foods.

Cranberries, for example, must have been a puzzle. And, having now had first-hand experience of fresh, non-Ocean Spray cranberries, I can tell you that they are ridiculously difficult to rid of stems and leaves. They all stick together and won't wash away. It took me an hour on Wednesday to pick through about a cup and a half of cranberries!! (St. Petersburg is marshy so we do have them here...) And then--what were they to do with them? I think their sauce was inspired. But, while it immediately says "holiday" to the contemporary American palate, it was a new taste for our Pilgrims. So, too, was it with so many of their foods.

I am always grateful to be an American. The more I travel, the more that is true. I love to see other people, other cultures and other lands, but I'm very glad that I can rest secure in the knowledge that America is home. I am grateful to the Pilgrim women who scratched their heads and came up with foods that, in a small way, represent that American home.

The historian in me knows all about evolving trations, Abe Lincoln declaring it a holiday, etc. etc. But, please, leave me with my picture of the Pilgrim women gathered around a communal oven scratching their heads at the raw materials of their proposed feast. I like the picture of the women...coping. And that coping, that initiative, that making the best of what they were given is surely as American as cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving Day.

Lastly (though I debated whether to include this anecdote as that last sentence was such a nice ending...), I want to tell you about my classroom on Thanksgiving Day. The school was filled with an energy. One of the parents brought in turkeys and fixings so the whole school smelled like Thanksgiving. I'd been up the night before baking pies. The second graders all brought a vegetable and we made soup. They learned how to safely peel and chop their vegetable. They were so excited! I'm sure part of that was my excitement. I LOVE Thanksgiving! (second favourite day only to Christmas eve)I told them that one of my favourite parts of Thanksgiving was spending the day in the kitchen with my friends cooking together. One of my students said, "And that's what you're doing today!" They are a lovely class and I'm very thankful to have them.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as nice as mine.


09 November 2005

the monkeys

Here is a picture of my class! Note the traces of sunrise behind them. This was taken at 10 am last Tuesday. Do any of you bloggers know how to rotate this? The insert pix page doesn't have that as an option...