There are lots of things to be thankful for, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day. This year, however, instead of just being thankful for a roof over my head, health insurance (the cost of which will include my left itty-bitty youknowhat come ’08), and some hot buttered popcorn every now and then, I have to also thank those wonderful Wampanoag Indians.
They suffered the blustery forbearance of some danged illegal immigrants who immediately wanted to take over their land and start new lives here on hallowed U.S. soil. Imagine! Those durned Pilgrims … they were soooo lucky they were able to sit down and have a deep-fried turkey with the Wampanoag and not get their scalps sliced off after the dessert was served.
Not only did they bring their staunchly Puritan ways across the ocean with them, they also brought whatever diseases they had with them too, thus infecting the Indians with surely what would have been considered avian flu back then.
I am so thankful the Wampanoag had the good grace to allow those fools to camp out and build homes and plant pumpkins. I mean, otherwise there would be no pumpkin pies, no pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, no pumpkin and mango shrimp … and who would have ever guessed that the ugliest creature walking in the woods back then would become an all-time traditional favorite? Stuffed with bread, no less! Just hearing a turkey gobble is enough to turn anyone off. Who would have thought you could do so much with just one bird?
I could give you the thousand and one recipes my dad had for turkey leftovers, but we’ll leave that for another time.
Suffice it to say that he loved his bird and loved it any way he could get it. If you liked your turkey cooked to the point of being jerky, you’d always be welcome at our house. Dad figured if you cooked the bird long enough, you’d never get sick from it. Well, sure, you couldn’t get sick from it if you couldn’t chew it.
But I digress.
The Wampanoag took good care of those illegals. Fed them. Gave them land. Helped them to survive the long cold winters.
Good thing they did, too, or else this country would never have gotten off to the roaring start that it did.
Interesting to note that the Pilgrims didn’t have forks back then. Eating with wooden spoons was probably the way to go, or with their hands.
Their dinner consisted of things like wild fowl (yeah, another term for that crazy turkey), venison, lobster, fish, dried corn, no spuds — they weren’t around just then — and they didn’t have pie. They had cranberries, but no sugar.
Imagine not having sugar? That’s yet another thing to be thankful for, the wonderful goodness that is sugar!
You have to kind of wonder what the Puritans thought of the Wampanoag, I mean, you have to figure the Indians didn’t wear a lot of clothing, and the Puritans were buttoned up to their eyeballs and down to their booties. I’m sure ol’ Miles Standish’s first word was probably “Yowsah!” when he clapped eyes on those nearly naked Indians! And Ellinor Billington most likely fainted dead away when Squanto came out of the woods and hollered a big ol’ Barney Fife “HOWDY!”
I guess the Pilgrims did their best with what they had available to them. It must have been a pretty dodgy trip coming across on the Mayflower and landing off the coast of Massachusetts.
You reckon the Indians said things like, “Pahk ya cah ovah hee-ah” or ‘Hey! That’s my lahb-stah!”
That accent didn’t just happen overnight, you know.
And just what exactly did happen to the Wampanoag Indians, you ask?
They moved south.
Formed a baseball team.
Called themselves “The Braves.”
Anyone who had to deal with the Puritans had to be brave.