Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving Time

Benson sat upright in his bed. A canister of oxygen beside him fed him an occasional whoosh of air.

“I don’t believe you,” Dante said. He was young but not so young that he would outright believe fantastic stories told by his grandfather. “How do you know you’re related? How can you sit there and tell me your ancestors were the first?”


“Because of our tradition,” Benson said. “Something that lasts longer than your generation’s attention span.” Benson immediately regretted the judgment.

Dante rose from the chair that sat beside Benson’s bed, and he walked to the door.

“I’m sorry,” Benson said. “Please come back and sit. There is more to the story than what the history writers taught. Much more.”

Dante returned to the chair, his eyes relaying skepticism and curiosity.


“You ask me how do I know,” Benson began. “We have an oral history tradition in our family. We talk to the new generations, and we make sure you understand. The very first Thanksgiving wasn’t exactly the way it was portrayed to be.”


Your ancestors are direct descendants from that day and time. We have both Indian and pilgrim blood in our veins. And in those days, pilgrims and Indians didn’t get along very well. Lots of fighting and confusion. No one understood the other for our languages and souls were oceans apart.

When the strangers first came, no one knew where they came from. The pilgrims thought they were angels because they were bright and shiny. They talked funny, though. According to our history, their voices were like a monotone spoken under water. They thudded when they walked, and they had pipes on their heads.

The Indians didn’t trust them. One of the tribe described them as being soulless and barren. The pilgrims should have listened to the Indians, but since neither liked to communicate with the other, the pilgrims went on being happy with their angels.

When people from the settlement started disappearing, many in the pilgrim camp thought the Indians were behind it. When people in the Indian camp started disappearing, the Indians suspected the pilgrims. It looked like certain war until a stranger showed up and brought them together.

They described him as wearing very strange clothing. He had shaggy hair, a very long scarf, and a very long coat. He had bulging eyes, too. He showed each camp that the other camp wasn't responsible. He showed how the shiny people were taking people away and changing them into copies of themselves. The stranger was very persuasive and good natured, and he enlisted the help of both pilgrims and Indians to help rid the land of the ‘angels.’

There was a field just outside the forest that provided a home for dozens, if not hundreds, of turkeys. The strange man had the pilgrims and Indians dig some traps in the field and cover them with netting.  The turkeys were herded out to the outskirts of the clearing, and the shiny ones were lured into the traps. When the angels fell into the traps, the turkeys were herded into the traps. Apparently, there was a specific sound the turkey’s made when they gobbled that seemed to render the shiny people unconscious. It was like turning off a switch. Sadly, many of the turkeys did not survive the encounter.

The pilgrims and the Indians helped gather the sleeping angels and put them in a very odd small blue box. Just when you thought the box couldn’t hold any more, more was put in the box. It never bulged or broke. It always could take more.

The stranger wouldn’t take the turkeys though, but he did suggest that a feast be held celebrating the defeat of the pipe headed angels and also acknowledging a new found respect for the brave turkeys. Though it’s often depicted as one meal that the Indians and pilgrims had together, there were actually 30 meals. A lot of turkey, and a lot of naps. Fact is, there was so much napping, nothing ever got done. The stranger suggested exercise to help counter the effects of the turkey, and the camps developed a physical game that involved two teams, a leather bag, two goals, and people in striped shirts. It was quite successful, and tradition has it that people danced when they entered the goal with the leather bag.


Except for the oxygen, the room was quiet. Dante looked as his grandfather and smiled.

“Really happened, huh?” Dante said.

“This story has not changed over the centuries,” Benson answered. “My father passed it on to me as his father passed it on to him.”

A man in a white coat entered the room carrying a chart.

“Mr. Benson, I think you need to rest a bit,” he said.


“I’m okay, doc,” Benson replied. “Just handling some unfinished business.”

“Take care of it another time,” the man said. “You need your rest.”

Benson closed his eyes, and Dante got up from his chair to leave.

“Quite a story,” the man said.

“I didn’t know he had that kind of an imagination,” Dante said. “But it’s a good story.”

“It’s even better than you think,” the man said as he opened the door.


“Truly,” the man said. “Let me introduce myself. I’m the doctor.”


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