First, it's important to know that Franklin Roosevelt actually set the current date for Thanksgiving, which is on the fourth Thursday of November by an act of Congress. FDR set that date because he had plans on the last Thursday of the month with his mistress, Lucy Mercer, to cover themselves in oil and see if the turkey was done, and Eleanor wouldn't argue with a date set by Congress.
The original Thanksgiving is widely thought have been in 1621, back when KFC was still Kentucky Fried Chicken and the green bean casserole with fried onions on top was still just a twinkle in Charles Campbell's eye. The pilgrims at Plymouth had been near starvation, and they were saved with the help of the Wampanoug Native Americans, who taught them to work the land and fish the seas. (Interestingly,the name 'Wampanoag' translated loosely, means 'no good deed goes unpunished'.)
Before the celebration began, the squaw of the Wampanoag chief called the wife of the mayor of Plymouth, and they had a very polite, yet, terse, conversation about where the Thanksgiving feast should take place. "But you hosted the Corn Festival!" complained the wife. "Yes, but all of the children went to your village for the summer solstice!" said the squaw. A deal was struck where the first year would be held in the village, where the wife would serve her traditional stuffing and a pumpkin pie, and the next year would be with the tribe, and they would have beaver pate and Rocky Mountain oysters. This was the first documented argument of the mothers arguing over who should spend Thanksgiving where.
Of course, the Wampanoag arrived a little late, which messed up the whole meal for everyone else because the mashed potatoes were getting cold and the gravy was burning, and the mayor's wife had that one extra glass of wine while waiting that changed her from hospitable to bitchy, and she started making snide comments about how civilized people wear underwear to dinner. Everyone ate, making awkward small talk about their jobs and kids and what home improvement projects they were working on, and by dessert, everyone was in a food coma and had to lie down on the floor and watch the second half of the Redskins v. Cowboys game. Of course, the Cowboys lost.
Near starvation, yet dressed impeccably.
And no one ate that dog, which I'm
happy about, because roast dog for Thanksgiving
would've been a bad tradition.
The next morning, the mayor's wife woke everyone with fresh cinnamon rolls, which were delicious until she told anyone who would listen about how much work they were and how they didn't turn out right, and the squaw's rolls were undoubtedly better and they would all be happier next year when they were at the Wampanoag's house, and then she went off to the outhouse to cry and everyone looked at each other with the rolled eyes and ate their rolls. Then everyone went to WalMart to beat the shit out of the other shoppers to get $20 off on a toaster oven.
Then everyone went home, talking about Uncle Truman's awkward insistence on kissing of all of the young girls, how Aunt Rosemary is still bitter, and how Miranda Petticoat's children are completely out of control brats. By September of the next year, they couldn't wait for Thanksgiving again, because like labor, the pain is easily forgotten, especially when there is pumpkin pie involved. Or beaver pate.
Happy Thanksgiving, and have a great weekend!