A small flame

A small flame

Down Memory Lane - Thanksgiving

This is the seventh post in a series of 12 posts scheduled by Mommy's Piggy Tales, which encourages women to record stories from their childhood for future generations to enjoy.

Pilgrim & Indian Day

Thanksgiving is such a special American tradition, isn't it? If you grew up in the U.S., have you ever thought about what an amazing thing it is from a global perspective that this nation has a day every year to officially focus on the giving of thanks? Growing up, we sometimes had an occasion to explain Thanksgiving to some of our New Guinean friends and they were always amazed that an entire country would set aside a day just to give thanks to God for His blessings.

My Mom was so creative as she raised us in a foreign country! She wanted us to respect and appreciate the country we lived in, but also to have a sense of identity as Americans.

One of the ways she did this was our annual celebration of Thanksgiving. There were no relatives to get together with; no turkey to eat; and the weather was still relentlessly hot and sticky. But each year when the last Thursday in November rolled around, we celebrated anyway. We researched the first Thanksgiving celebrations and then had our own version of that first Thanksgiving - our annual 'Pilgrim and Indian Day'.

We bobbed for apples (my favorite activity), had archery contests with my brothers' bows and arrows {gifts from the people in Timbai}, and participated in wrestling contests {otherwise known as 'Dog-pile on Daddy'}. We also had a corn-husking contest, which was really just Mom's way of getting us to help her get the corn ready for our meal.

Our Thanksgiving meal - which we ate out on our lawn - consisted of a roasted chicken, cornbread, corn on the cob, and other vegetables. For desert, we ate little 'pumpkin' tarts, made with butternut squash bought in the open market.

Of course, no respectable Pilgrim and Indian Day would be complete without the appropriate costumes. Some years, we just made simple headbands with construction paper 'feathers' on them. However, one year Mom decided to go big on the costumes. She made a tall, black hat for Dad and used sewing machine to sew tissue paper bonnets for herself and for me. They were really works of art!

If only the story ended there . . . . but as luck would have it, when we sat down in our yard to eat our dinner that year, proudly decked in our hats, the new neighbor - recently arrived from Australia - came over to the fence and called out to introduce himself.

I can still remember sitting by our picnic, giggling at the sight of my Dad, paper top-hat firmly in place, chatting with that neighbor. I've always wondered what that poor, unsuspecting guy thought of us in all our Pilgrim and Indian Day finery!



The Scrapbook People said...

I love your stories. They are so interesting to read. Your mom was very creative and I love how she wanted to keep the tradition going while you were in another country. Roasted chicken, corn on the cob and all!

Becky said...

What an appropriate story for the week before Thanksgiving! And what beautiful memories. Mom's (and Dad's) are wonderful.

Gretchen said...

Cute! HAHA! Such fun that your mom put into a special day. Is it weird for you to celebrate in America now? For instance -- indoors? :)

Rachel said...

When I first came back to the U.S. for college, American Thanksgiving celebrations seemed a bit odd . . . but then just about everything seemed odd then ;o) During my college years I fell in love with Thanksgiving traditions in America, and I enjoy them every much now.

MrsH said...

i especially love the costumes! Thanks for reminding me that it's those silly things that can make a huge impact. Glad your family found ways to celebrate and be together!

Laura T said...

What a great story! I am impressed with your gallery of photos - such a treasure. It's so nice that your mom kept those holiday traditions alive for you, even when overseas.

Jessica said...

That is so awesome! Your mom was a dedicated and creative lady!