Far Out: Thankful Anyway
By: Jeannette de Beauvoir, November 22, 2011
Ah. Thanksgiving this week, the American holiday devoted to making stuffing … and then stuffing oneself with it.
I’ll say it right away: I’m a "bah-humbug" sort of person when it comes to this holiday. Choosing the remembrance of genocide as an occasion for being grateful has always struck me as being just a little whacked.
We on the Outer Cape have a year-round reminder of the absurdity of the holiday. Up at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum (which will put on its 102nd annual lighting this Wednesday), there’s even a diorama that tells the tale.
The Pilgrims, as you may or may not know, did not make their landfall in Plymouth: the ship first sailed into Provincetown Harbor.
The Mayflower Compact was signed here, and this was where they spent their first arduous winter before deciding that it really wasn’t where they wanted to live. Dorothy Bradford, wife of the first governor, went so far as to commit suicide here in the harbor—so clearly for her, Provincetown just wasn’t cutting it.
The passage across the Atlantic had taken its toll, and if you’ve been out here in wintertime you know that there’s not much in the way of easy natural sustenance.
But then—oh, miracle of miracles! —they found some corn! Exploring the countryside, a party from the ship blundered into Truro. At what is now Corn Hill, the Pilgrims found a kettle from a European ship, some planks, and a mound of sand where something had been recently buried.
They dug it up and found it to be a basket with 36 ears of Indian corn; Indians stored their corn seed in large baskets buried in the ground to be used for the next season's planting.
So they took the corn. They took the corn. They may well have called it “finding the corn” or “borrowing the corn,” but where I come from, that’s known as stealing.
Yeah, it saved some of the Pilgrims’ lives: but it was the beginning of the end for those who rightfully owned it and counted on it for their next crop.
I’ve always thought it would make a terrific statement to break into a grocery store on Thanksgiving Day and steal a few necessities. I’d only be following a time-honored tradition around here, after all.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s wonderful to take time out from life to count our blessings. People tend to whine, to focus on what is wrong in their lives instead of on what is right. And there’s no question that I have a great deal to be grateful for this year.
I just wish that gratitude didn’t have to be quite so closely associated with our ongoing ability to judge ourselves as more important than everyone else around us.