Don’t tell me you actually believe that Pilgrims, dressed in black, sat down with Indians, wearing feathers and colorful beads, for a big meal of turkey, cornbread, cranberries and pumpkin pie and created what we know as Thanksgiving?
If you do, we need to talk. Fast. It’s almost Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving myths persist, largely due to our schools passing down pure nonsense about this holiday from one generation to another. Bet you didn’t know that “Pilgrims” weren’t even introduced as part of the holiday until the late 19th century!
I prefer Erma Bombeck’s take on Thanksgiving. She notes, “Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Football half-time takes twelve minutes too. This is not coincidence.” Now, that’s NO myth.
That business of the Pilgrims wearing only black and white clothing with buckles on their hats, clothing and shoes is also silly. Buckles did not come into fashion until later in the 17th century and black and white were commonly worn only on Sunday and formal occasions. And it’s likely that the Indians were fully clothed to ward off the chill of autumn in New England. Who would wear only a loincloth in Massachusetts in November?
And the poor turkey. What was probably on the menu, according to historians, included cod, bass, clams, oysters, Indian corn, native berries and plums, all washed down with water, beer made from corn, and another drink the settlers affectionately called “strong water.”
And that Plymouth Colony story? Yet another myth. The first celebration that was called Thanksgiving occurred in San Elizario, Texas in 1598, when conquistador Juan de Onate arrived at the Rio Grande after a long, harsh trek. Plymouth Colony was probably the third Thanksgiving according to historians.
Oh, by the way, forget that fourth Thursday of November tradition too as part of the original story. We owe this date to President Franklin D. Roosevelt who set this date in 1939 – it took Congress two years to approve it. Some things don’t change.
So, no Pilgrims, no buckles, no turkey, not even sure when it started or where, no fourth Thursday in November, not even a November date (more like September-October). What’s left? A charming story.
Whether it is sharing a favorite comfort food passed down across generations, catching up on the family’s news, deciding on a name for the new puppy, or telling stories – these brief moments may have lasting effects for children’s health and wellbeing.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to stop, reflect, and, well, give thanks. Regardless of the story, the myths, the traditions that have been developed, the truth is, as someone once said, “Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.” Gratitude does not depend on childhood false images of Pilgrims and Indians. It depends on the heart and soul of an individual.
Gratitude. Ahhh, the new antidote for what ails everyone. People who identify, note and share what goes right daily typically report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vigor, optimism and lower levels of emotional negativity such as depression or anxiety. Grateful folks are more generous, more spiritual, and place less importance on material goods. They take better care of themselves and therefore report being in better health, exercise more regularly, eat a healthy diet and even schedule physical exams more consistently.
Want to use Thanksgiving to its fullest, regardless of the long-standing myths?
1. Maintain a gratitude journal daily. Catch at least 3 things that went right, small things, big things, just events that went right. Step on the brake and your car stop at an intersection? That’d be one.
2. Share one or two of these events with others. Sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table is a great time to go around and ask everyone of all ages what they are most grateful for in their lives.
3. Recall those who have helped you in your life, and refocus your grudges as emotions that are harmful to you, and others.
4. Quickly change any negative thoughts into positive ones. Remember that things haven’t happened TO you over the past year, they’ve happened FOR you. You’ve been redirected in life to better, new open doors, not simply rejected.
5. Don’t lock yourself up with your history, instead focus on what’s possible in your future—everything and anything you can imagine, boldy go after, you can achieve.
Regardless of your celebration, the stories you believe, it comes down to this: as someone once said, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” For some it’s a quick “rub a dub dub and thanks for the grub.” For others, it’s profound expressions around the table with everyone saying something for which they are thankful. You choose, you decide. This can truly be a THANKS-GIVING or simply another rushed dinner with a missed opportunity to turn Thanksgiving into the holiday of gratitude it truly is.
Have a peaceful, delicious, heart-warming, satisfying, gratitude-filled and of course, a very Happy Thanksgiving!