Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Diatribe about Thanksgiving

Now, normally no one would expect a diatribe about Thanksgiving.  The form is more given to tirades on, oh, say. incredibly terrible color printers. But I digress. Here's the scoop on Thanksgiving. It's not what you think it is...

I don’t know if you think a lot about the English Puritans or as they were known as in this country, the Pilgrims, also called the Fun Bunch. Quite possibly your memories of them are associated with the story of the first Thanksgiving, which by the way did not occur at Plimouth Plantation in 1621 but rather in Virginia in 1619, before the Pilgrims even set sail for the New World. On September 16, 1619, a group of 38 English colonists headed by Captain John Woodlief sailed from England aboard the Margaret. They landed at Berkeley Hundred 10 weeks later. The settlers were sent by the London Company; it owned thousands of acres in the area, and had settled and supported Berkeley Plantation. 

In the company's instructions to the settlers -- instructions to be opened upon reaching Virginia--was this sentence: 

We ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God. 

The settlers held that Thanksgiving at Berkeley Hundred on December 4, 1619

Anyhow, another way you might know something about the Pilgrims is that you read, somewhere and sometime, Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, a story of sin, guilt and redemption set in Puritan times but unfortunately (and that word really pertains here) written about 200 years later in the 1840’s, the Romantic Period.  You might not have read it and I don’t blame you if you haven’t.  It is the worst book ever inflicted on innocent sixteen-year-olds in this country, fit only for English majors and people lacking a real love interest in their lives.  If it is your favorite book and you read it once a week and have towels, tea sets and fork handles with images of the main characters on them, I’m sorry, but I’m just sayin’.

Anyhow, whatever you believe about Thanksgiving and its origins (I hope it's the True Virginia Version), I hope you have a great holiday.  I am continually thankful for my family, for my faith, and for the freedoms we enjoy bought at a tremendous price by the sacrifice of millions of men and women. And I'm thankful for you, blogistas and your taking your time to read these screeds. I'm taking the next four days off as a holiday but I'll be back Monday with more random observations.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving Dan and family! I am sure Jan C. is still teaching the Cherubs the little song "On Thanksgiving Day" - Pilgrims and Indians ate together.... I had to smile as I read this. The majority of the Guthrie family is celebrating in Charleston, SC this year with Kaylan and Chris. Jim and I rented a small house on Folly Beach. As I write I can hear the ocean waves slap the sand. We will be minus Matt - he could not get time off. Happy Thanksgiving to your famly

  2. Having just read the Post review of "The Pilgrim", this debunking fit right in.
    Have a happy Thanksgiving. We will be at my sister's over by Annapolis--with children and grandchildren, so you can't ask for more. Except that we could live without the pickup and dropoff (two adults, accompanied by 3 yr-old and 4-mo-old) at BWI on the two worst travel days of the year...

  3. Where can I get one of those Scarlet Letter tea sets?

  4. @MaryMac--Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels.

    @Mary G--I think Kohl's has them starting about midnight tonight...:^) Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. @Joan--Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your kin!