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What that first Thanksgiving might have been like

Published November 25. 2013 09:59AM

When: Sometime in November 1621.

Where: Plymouth, Massachusetts

The following might have been a conversation between some of the people at the first Thanksgiving.

"Honey, I'm home. Guess who's coming to dinner?"

"William Brewster, wipe your feet before you come into this house. I just spent the whole morning raking this dirt floor."

"Mary, I have exciting news. Governor William Bradford said that since we had such a good harvest, we should have a celebration. So him and some of us boys were out hunting and we met our new pal Massasoit and some of his cronies. Bill thought it would be a nice gesture to invite Massasoit and about 90 members of his tribe to a Thanksgiving dinner since they basically helped us survive this first year. What do you think?"

William Brewster never saw the frying pan until it was too late. He walked around with a black eye for days.

A few miles away.

"Sweetheart, I'm back. Guess who I ran into?"

"You go right back outside this tepee. You're dripping blood from that dead deer over your shoulders on my new bearskin rug!"

"But listen, Woman-With-Arrows-Shooting-Out-Of-Her-Mouth, we've been invited to have Thanksgiving dinner with the Pilgrims over in Plymouth. I told them we'd love to. What do you think?"

Massasoit never saw Woman-With Arrows-Shooting-Out-Of-Her-Mouth pull the bearskin rug out from under his feet. He was cleaning deer guts out of his hair for a month.

Plymouth a few days later as some Pilgrim wives sat around grinding corn.

"I could just kill that husband of mine. Like I don't have enough to do with grinding, cleaning and surviving, now he wants us to cook for 90 more people! And where am I going to put them? Does he think this is a Holiday Inn? And I don't have a thing to wear. Everything I own is so last year's and it's not like I have time to sail to London for something new," complained Mary Brewster.

"I know what you mean. James shot so many fowl for this dinner that if I have to pluck one more feather, I'm going to stick it where the sun don't shine," said Susanna Chilton followed by laughter from the other Plymouth women.

In a communal wigwam a few miles away, women of the Wampanoag tribe were tanning hides.

"And then I said, 'Massasoit, you are not taking my good dishes to this party. How can I be sure I'll get them back when we leave?' And do you know what he said? 'Oh Woman-Of-Too-Much-Tupperware, you worry too much.' Humph. Someone has to, I told him. Who are these people anyway? They're complete strangers. They could steal our land. Call us Redskins. And what is Tupperware?"

Thanksgiving Day at Plymouth.

"Hello Mr. and Mrs. Massasoit. Welcome to our humble home. My wife, Mary, and the rest of Plymouth are happy to see you. Mary, why don't you take, uh, Massasoit, what's your wife's name?"


"OK. Mary, why don't you take Woman-Who-Takes-Too-Long-To-Get-Ready and her friends, to meet the other ladies of Plymouth."

"Of course, dear."

As the ladies walked to where women were shucking corn, grinding corn, cleaning fish and roasting squash, Mary asked, "Is Woman-Who-Takes-Too-Much-Time-To-Get-Ready, your real name?"

"No, it's Sal-ee, but instead of a Medicine Man, my husband thinks he's a Funny Man."

And so the next three days the Pilgrims and Native Americans spent time getting to know each other as they played games, sang, danced and ate together.

Pilgrim wife and Native American wife, sat side by side, learning they had much in common.

"You know, I get so tired of picking up Massasoit's loin cloths all over the tepee's floor."

"Me too! Men! They're so clueless. Last night ... What do you want, son? No, you cannot have a musket for Christmas. You could shoot your eye out ... Now what was I saying, oh yeah. Last night, after cooking all day for the feast today, he had the nerve to get frisky. I told him I had a headache."

"Head ache. That's a good one. I'll have to remember that. What's a 'head ache'?"

"Sal-EE, what is that game the boys are playing? They've been tossing and kicking that ball around for hours. What a waste of a perfectly good afternoon."

"We call it 'Foot Ball.' Once Massasoit and the other husbands stop to watch them play, I can't get him off the bearskin. They just sit there and guzzle sassafras tea and munch on buffalo wings all afternoon. I can give you that recipe, if you'd like. And I'd love your recipe for Fish & Squash Chips."

Somewhere on a small rise above the new village, two large birds watched the scene below with some alarm as the aroma of a turkey being roasted over a spit wafted up to them.

The one turns to the other and says, "You know Tom, I hope this Thanksgiving thing doesn't become a yearly tradition. If it does, I don't think it's going to bode too well for us turkeys."

May you all find much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

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