[nikonf4] Re: Thanksgiving

  • From: MomMamiya7@xxxxxxx
  • To: nikonf4@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 4 Dec 2010 23:17:25 EST

Hi Frank,
Gave this a quick glance on Thanksgiving Day ... enough to know I  wanted 
to read them in full.  Just did that and found them both totally  
entertaining.  Thanks for sending them.
In a message dated 11/25/2010 11:49:58 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
frankarmstrong@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:

From a  friend of mine  today....


reprinted  from a 1950's column in the Paris Herald Tribune that I first
read as a kid  in Europe.  If you know a bit of French it really cracks 
you  up:
(Further below is Garrison Keillor's  anthology.)

Explaining Thanksgiving to the French
The Los  Angeles Times | November 28 1996 | Art Buchwald

By Art  Buchwald
Thursday, November 28 1996
The Los Angeles Times

[ In  1953, during my tour of duty with the French Foreign Legion in the 
Sahara,  my tough sergeant from Marseilles said to me, "Why do all the 
American  recruits refuse to eat anything but turkey on this day?"
I told him I was  sorry but my lips were sealed. He then poured honey on 
my head so the ants  would get me. That's when I broke down and talked.]

One of the most  important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France 
as le Jour de  Merci Donnant.
Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of  pilgrims 
(Pelerins) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to  found a 
colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde), where they could shoot  
Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their hearts'  content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture  Americaine) 
in a wooden sailing ship named the Mayflower, or Fleur de Mai,  in 1620. 
But while the Pelerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges  were 
killing the Pelerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for  both 
of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pelerins was when  they 
taught them how to grow corn (mais). They did this because they liked  
corn with their Pelerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the  Pelerins' crops were so good they 
decided to have a celebration and  because more mais was raised by the 
Pelerins than Pelerins were killed by  the Peaux-Rouges.
Every year on le Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell  their children an 
amusing story about the first celebration.

It  concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as  
Kilometres Deboutish ) and a shy young lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both  
of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens  
(no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune  lieutenant:

"Go to the damsel Priscilla (Allez tres vite chez  Priscilla), the 
loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de  Plymouth). Say 
that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action  (un vieux 
Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart -- the hand and  heart 
of a soldier. Not in these words, you understand, but this, in  short, is 
my meaning.

"I am a maker of war (Je suis un fabricant de  la guerre) and not a maker 
of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (Vous, qui  êtes pain comme un 
etudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you  read in your 
books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you  think best 
suited to win the heart of the maiden."

Although Jean  was fit to be tied (convenable a être emballe), friendship 
prevailed over  love and went to his duty. But instead of using elegant 
language, he  blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement 
and sorrow  (rendue muette par l'etonnement et la tristesse).

At length she  exclaimed, breaking the ominous silence, "If the great 
captain of Plymouth  is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come 
himself and take the  trouble to woo me?" ("Ou est-il, le vieux 
Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il  pas aupres de moi pour tenter sa chance?")

Jean said that Kilometres  Deboutish was very busy and didn't have time 
for such things. He staggered  on, telling her what a wonderful husband 
Kilometres would make. Finally,  Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said 
in a tremulous voice, "Why don't  you speak for yourself, Jean?" ("Chaçun 
a son gout.")

And so, on  the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down 
at a large  table brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time 
during the year  eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci  Donnant is a grand fête, and no 
matter how well fed American families are,  they never forget to give 
thanks to Kilometres Deboutish, who made this  great day possible.

(C) 1996, Los Angeles Times  Syndicate.

From Garrison Keillor:

Today is  Thanksgiving Day.

Feast days giving thanks for a good harvest have been  celebrated for 
thousands of years. But when we talk about "the first  Thanksgiving," we 
are referring to a fall feast day in 1621 in Plymouth,  Massachusetts, 
when about 50 recently arrived colonists shared in three  days of 
feasting with 90 Wampanoag Indians. The pilgrims had arrived  almost a 
year earlier, but after a long journey and no resources for  surviving in 
this new place, about half of them died during the first  winter. The 
wheat they had brought didn't sprout in the rocky soil, and  they had no 
idea which native plants were edible and which were  poisonous.

Luckily for them, there were two Indians living nearby who  spoke 
English. One of them, Squanto, had been enslaved by a British slave  
trader, but was also close friends with an English explorer, John  
Weymouth. The other, Samoset, was a leader from a tribe in what is now  
Maine, and had learned English from British fishermen there. The  
colonists were quite surprised when Samoset walked into their camp and  
said, "Welcome, Englishmen!" in English. He introduced them to Squanto,  
and to Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoag.

Samoset went back to  his tribe, but Squanto felt sorry for the sick and 
confused colonists, and  since he lived nearby anyway, he decided to stay 
and teach them how to  survive in this new place. He taught them to plant 
corn, to fish and dig  clams, to tap maple trees, to use wild plants as 
medicine, and to build  shelters in the Wampanoag style. By that fall, 
they had successfully  harvested their first crops, and they had built 
seven houses, a common  space, and three shelters to store their excess 
food. So they had plenty  of reasons to celebrate.

The colonists decided to set aside a few days  to eat and give thanks for 
their harvest. They had celebrated Thanksgiving  in the past, but as a 
purely religious holiday, full of praying, not  celebration. They invited 
Squanto and Massasoit and their families to  come, expecting a few 
people. But Squanto and Massasoit brought 90 people  with them to join 
the 52 colonists. The feasting lasted for three days,  and they probably 
ate venison, duck, lobsters, mussels, chestnuts,  parsnips, eel, corn, 
dried beans, plums, gooseberries, and squash. There  were no potatoes, 
sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, or pumpkin pies, and  probably not even 

On Thanksgiving Day of 1884, Walt Whitman  (books by this author) 
published a piece in The Philadelphia Press,  writing about himself in 
the third person. He wrote:

"Scene.— A  large family supper party, a night or two ago, with voices 
and laughter of  the young, mellow faces of the old, and a by-and-by 
pause in the general  joviality. 'Now, Mr. Whitman,' spoke up one of the 
girls, 'what have you  to say about Thanksgiving? Won't you give us a 
sermon in advance, to sober  us down?' The sage nodded smilingly, look'd 
a moment at the blaze of the  great wood fire, ran his forefinger right 
and left through the heavy white  mustache that might have otherwise 
impeded his voice, and began:  'Thanksgiving goes probably far deeper 
than you folks suppose. I am not  sure but it is the source of the 
highest poetry. [...] We Americans devote  an official day to it every 
year; yet I sometimes fear the real article is  almost dead or dying in 
our self-sufficient, independent Republic.  Gratitude, anyhow, has never 
been made half enough of by the moralists; it  is indispensable to a 
complete character, man's or woman's — the  disposition to be 
appreciative, thankful. That is the main matter, the  element, 
inclination — what geologists call the 'trend.' Of my own life  and 
writings I estimate the giving thanks part, with what it infers, as  
essentially the best item. I should say the quality of gratitude rounds  
the whole emotional nature; I should say love and faith would quite lack  
vitality without it.'"

On November 30, 1905, Thanksgiving Day, Mark  Twain (books by this 
author) turned 70. He wrote: "Every year every person  in America 
concentrates all his thought upon one thing, the cataloguing of  his 
reasons for being thankful to the Deity for the blessings conferred  upon 
him and upon the human race during the expiring twelve months. This  is 
well and as it should be; but it is too one-sided. No one ever seems to  
think of the Deity's side of it; apparently no one concerns himself to  
inquire how much or how little He has had to be thankful for during the  
same period; apparently no one has had good feeling enough to wish He  
might have a Thanksgiving day too. There is nothing right about this. Do  
you suppose everything has gone to His satisfaction during the year? Do  
you believe He is as sweepingly thankful as our nation is going to be,  
as indicated by the enthusiasms which will appear in the papers on the  
30th of this month from the pens of the distinguished persons appointed  
to phrase its thankfulness on that day?"

In Animal, Vegetable,  Miracle (2007), Barbara Kingsolver (books by this 
author) wrote: "Turkeys  have walked wild on this continent since the 
last ice age, whereas Old  Europe was quite turkeyless. (That fact alone 
scored them nearly enough  votes to become our national bird, but in the 
end, I guess, looks do  matter.) Corn pudding may be the oldest New World 
comfort food; pumpkins  and cranberries, too, are exclusively ours. It's 
all American, the right  stuff at the right time. To this tasty assembly 
add a cohort of female  relatives sharing work and gossip in the kitchen, 
kids flopped on the  living room floor watching behemoth cartoon 
characters float down a New  York thoroughfare on TV, and men out in the 
yard pretending they still  have the upper-body strength for lateral 
passes, and this is a perfect  American day. If we need a better excuse 
to focus a whole day on preparing  one meal, eating it, then groaning 
about it with smiles on our faces, just  add a dash of humility and 
hallelujah. Praise the harvest. We made it  through one more turn of the  

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