This, That and Other Stuff

Bob Neuman

November contains one of America’s favorite holidays. Many prefer it to the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Families gather to enjoy a luscious dinner, talk about the past and speak of the future.

The Pilgrims were Calvinists from England searching for freedom to worship in their own way. In 1620, the Mayflower carrying 102 passengers arrived at Massachusetts Bay and established Plymouth.

Originally, they were bound for a Virginia settlement but instead, due to weather and navigation, they arrived in Massachusetts to a violent and freezing winter.

Some perished during the brutal winter but others survived partly because of the Indians. Squanto spoke English from his days of British slavery. He taught the settlers to fish, hunt and grow vegetables.

Supplies from England were not sufficient.

The colonists celebrated the harvest for three days, sometime between September and November 1621; 50 were alive from the Mayflower voyage and 90 Indians. Food was cooked by four adult Pilgrim women along with young daughters and male and female servants.

“They began to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and all things in good plenty.

“Four men were sent on fowling, that we might after a manner rejoice together after we gathered the fruits of our labor.

And besides waterfowl there were great stores of wild turkey, venison, meal and Indian corn. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want.” Governor William Bradford

Although our Thanksgiving celebrations are not that primitive or laborious, the meaning is still the same. Can you recall details of a special Thanksgiving?

My mother loved to cook, and my father liked being in the middle of his family. Therefore, my brother with his family and I with mine looked forward to each Thanksgiving.

Two of the coldest winters in Indiana happened in 1976-77. Temperatures were often 20 to 30 below and accompanied by wind, ice and snow. I vividly recall all of us sitting around the table when after the prayer, we took turns telling for what we each were grateful. The children focused mainly on the food, but the adults were thankful for family. My brother was grateful that all who sat around this table were still alive and reasonably healthy and here for the 1976 dinner. Without saying so, we knew he meant mother and father.

Little did we know that in 49 days there would be a death, but not the parents. My brother, age 41, suddenly died of an unexpected heart attack, leaving four small children and a devastated wife. My parents never stopped grieving or adjusted. It’s been said that no death is as horrible as that of a son or daughter.

Time on this earth is short, and the end can arrive anytime, as we all know. May your Thanksgiving be a joyous renewal with God and family.