My family’s ancestors crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower. The Howland clan spent that first autumn in Plymouth. Their food supplies were dangerously low and only the intervention by the native tribes spared the settlers from starvation. Americans have celebrated the largess of the Indians with an annual feast of turkey and all the fixings. Little if any mention is made of the Wampanoag Indians, who were nearly wiped out by the Puritans, then again extermination has no place at the dinner table on Thanksgiving.
Prayers of thanks are saved for family friends and God.
Turkey is the main meal.
I’ve had the bird most every Thanksgiving in my life.
Mothers around the USA spent hours preparing the feast. My family was no different from the rest of America. The early part of the day was filled by the chore of peeling apples, potatoes, turnips, carrots for our eight family members and another 5-10 guests. My older brother called it ‘KP Day’. My mother would cool the bird in the garage. Why was never explained to us. She would just take the big bird out of the oven and say, “Put it in the garage to cool.”
One Thanksgiving I obeyed her command. The garage door was open. The air was cold. I had spent the morning at the football game between my hometown and their arch-rivals. My next-door neighbor came over to the driveway with a football. We went into the backyard to emulate the day’s heroes. After bobbling a long pass Chuckie pointed to the front lawn."What's with DJ?"
DJ was a neighborhood dog. I was in love with his owner, Kyla. The German Shepard had his entire head was stuck in a turkey. I had not shut the door to the garage. I ran closer and then heard my mother scream.
I picked up a stick from the ground and charged to save our holiday meal. The big black dog fled from our yard with a slobbering snarl, leaving behind a mauled meal. My mother cried, “Where are we going to find a turkey now?”
My father looked at me. This was my fault. I didn’t even bother to explain my side of the story. When you’re wrong as a child, proving you’re right is a waste of breath. My older brother and younger siblings thanked me for ruining Thanksgiving, although it didn’t turn out so bad, since DJ’s owners paid for our meal at a nearby hotel. Kyla kissed me on the cheek. The food was good and my mother didn’t have to wash any dishes. We didn’t have a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal for the next five years.
We still thanked family, friends, and God, but my older brother and I also thanked DJ. Even bad deeds can turn out good as long as no one brings up the Wampanoag Indians.