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Remembering the Pilgrims on Their Own Ground

I have been fortunate to travel a lot around all these United States. Being a lover of history, I have been fortunate to travel to a lot of historical sites around all these United States. Seeing the place where the events happened, smelling the air, hearing the sounds it very helpful to make the experience and the storytelling very real. (I have not visited Valley Forge in the dead of winter nor have I crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Eve but you get the idea.) Seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains on a frosty morning when there really is a blue haze is breathtaking. Being on a Louisiana plantation in the humidity of summer is breathtaking in quite a different manner. One is thrilling and the other sorrowful but well-worth the experience of being there.

I have travelled numerous times to New England in the fall for the foliage and such. There is something very dramatic about coming around a bend on a highway in Vermont and seeing the stark white steeple of a local church jutting out from all the gold, orange, and red of a New England autumn. Lake Placid perfectly reflects all the surrounding colors and scenery that come to the shore. I had never really seen lake homes until I had cruised on Lake Placid one glorious autumn afternoon. I visited the historical re-creation of 17th Century Jamestown with the new Mayflower sailing vessel docked by the waterfront. After one morning in the Colony of Plymouth and the Jamestown proper I was able to come to one conclusion – the Pilgrims were a tough lot and very lucky. Their survival was not a given and the conditions under which they thrived were not ideal. They were a hardy lot & a resourceful bunch. And they must have wanted their religious freedom bad - really bad. Any wonder they gathered to give a toast to the New World with a proper feast – they deserved it after what they had been through. One of the many historical re-creations available in nearby Williamsburg, Virginia is a meal similar to what was recorded in the diaries of some of the attendees at that very first Thanksgiving. There is venison and wild turkey, fish, various kinds of vegetables fresh from the root cellars, and wonderful mead to drink. The dinner bears little resemblance to what modern chefs prepare for the third Thursday of November. I am not sure which one I like better. The re-creation was delicious but the modern one is much easier to come by. I’m not sure that it’s a good thing.

Many years ago, Nickelodeon had holiday marathons with all the old TV series holiday episodes. For Thanksgiving, it included two of my most favorite Bob Newhart Show episodes and WKRP in Cincinnati. My favorite tag line for years from “WKRP”: “I swear to God I thought turkeys can fly!” I wish Nick at Night or one of many other vintage channels would bring back those episodes for Thanksgiving eve (“Roseanne” did several episodes as did “Bewitched”, “Gilmore Girls”, & “The Brady Bunch” I’m sure there a lot more I don’t remember.) And being that I am a turkey amongst swans – I wish I could fly!

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