Jay at Willie's told me school is on like normal. I was a bit surprised at that.
Thanksgiving was a special stand-alone holiday when I was young. Today it's paired with this curious phenomenon called "Black Friday." For a long time I groped finding the words to express displeasure with the term "Black Friday." It just didn't seem right. It didn't seem to connote any joy. Finally, last year, John Stone, the newspaper guy to the east of here (in Pope County), helped me out with the terminology. Mr. Stone suggested in a column that "Black Friday" was a "somber"-sounding term, not really apt for a supposedly upbeat occasion.
Thanks to Mr. Stone, I can now express my displeasure appropriately.
Thanksgiving by contrast is a holiday felt from the heart.
I'm not sure where we'll dine for Thanksgiving 2014. The Morris community once had a community meal for Thanksgiving. It was well-promoted and attended. It was held at the bottom level of Assumption Church. I can still visualize the assortment of pies (with toppings) we chose from. We always "paid our way." I hope the event wasn't canceled for financial reasons. I can also remember when Prairie Inn advertised its Thanksgiving buffet. That too has bit the dust.
Last year I could find no place that offered a Thanksgiving meal. I was advised later that when all else fails, the hospital has a cafeteria where one can obtain a meal. I appreciate knowing that. I don't have the skill to prepare the traditional Thanksgiving meal, to prepare a full turkey in the oven etc. I would not be a candidate for a Norman Rockwell painting portraying such a scene. And even if I could do it, we are a mere family of two. We couldn't consume all that food.
If I remember correctly, I got a couple frozen dinners for us to have for Thanksgiving last year. It did the job. We will feel anxious for things to return to normal the next morning.
The Pilgrims reached Plymouth in December of 1620. They had rejected Cape Cod. Plymouth Rock itself is only five feet square. Tourists there are known to ask strange questions. "Was the first Thanksgiving served on top of it?" "Did Christopher Columbus drop off the Pilgrims?" Truth be told, exploration was pretty vigorous between 1492 and 1620. By the time the first English people settled, other Europeans had already reached half of the 48 states.
Spanish conquistadors examined the interior of the continent in 1542. They rafted the Mississippi River. They showed horses to Native Americans who had never before seen them. The Spanish gave thanks and dined with Indians 56 years before the Pilgrim Thanksgiving at Plymouth.
In 1602 a band of English built a fort on Cuttyhunk Island. Were they driven by a passion for religious freedom? I'm afraid the explanation isn't so romantic. They came to get rich digging sassafras, prized in Europe as a cure for the clap.
Let's tip the hat to Giovanni da Verrazzano. The intrepid Italian toured the Eastern seaboard in 1524. At one point he directed a crewman to swim ashore. What would the gawking natives do? They took the man to a fire, not to roast him but to warm him! Verrazzano went north and admired a wide bay, later to become New York Harbor. In 1528 he met his tragic end, getting seized by cannibals on a Caribbean island. Verrazzano deserves to be more famous than he is.
Of course, us Norwegians know the full story of how the ocean was traversed for settlement here. It's a fact that the intrepid Vikings established the fishing village of L'Anse aux Meadows on a grassy plateau. Radiocarbon dating pinpoints the year of 1000 A.D. Pretty impressive work by my forebears.
The Sagas tell us about the Vikings. They are based on reality but have been embellished to include weird, paranormal twists.
Did the Vikings come to Kensington MN? The top proponent of the Runestone suggests it was actually post-pagan explorers that came here.
It was the English stock of New England that molded the new nation's memory. We have the iconic image of the Pilgrim fathers - men with those guns that looked like a trumpet on the end - seeding the new land with their piety and work ethic. If only the whole early history of America could be so tranquil. Nevertheless we have our ideals.
The bottom line: History is written by the winners.