The Thanksgiving Story: Myth Vs History

Oh, boy.  I am just not excited about Thanksgiving this year.  It's just going to be a small, quick dinner, early in the day, but I still have to cook.  No time to lounge in my pajamas, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is all I really want to do on Thanksgiving morning.

So forgive these Thanksgiving posts.  They are being thrown together rather quickly, and a mean, pesky migraine headache keeps coming and going.

The past two nights, Big Sis and I read two contrasting books about the history/myth of the first Thanksgiving.  She is seven now, and very bright.  Little Sis sat nearby coloring, listening enough to jump up to see pictures that interested her.  Never underestimate what might interest a preschooler.

The first book was The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh, illustrated by Helen Sewell. It was published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1954, and it's still in print today.

As far as traditional American Thanksgiving stories go, this one is rather beautiful, and told in a very plain, easy-to-understand manner.  We see the "first Thanksgiving" through the eyes of some pilgrim children.  It does state some interesting facts.  For example, the pilgrims wore bright colors, not the blacks we always see them depicted in.

I do think this spread at the end of the book is gorgeous.


Do you sometimes feel like formal education is wasted on the young?  I mean, as a teenager, I remember being so bored in my U.S. History I class.  I enjoyed U.S. History II - anything about the Civil War through the modern era kept my attention - but I admit, early American history made me yawn.  A good deal of that may have been the teacher.  He wasn't exactly exciting.  Then in college, I was a theatre performance major, and I don't think I took a single history class as an elective.  So now, I'm 35 and married to a history buff, and I admit, I'm much more interested now.  I read.  I watch documentaries.  And yes, the people I spend the most time with are 7 and 5 years old, but I would like to discuss some historical things of interest (within reason) with them, too.

Big Sis and I read 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving last night.  It was written by Catherine O'Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac with Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum, and published by The National Geographic Society in 2001.  The wonderful photographs by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson show the museum's actors recreating the events leading up to and of the harvest feast we now call The First Thanksgiving.

I don't expect her to remember all the names of the people and tribes in the book.  I just want her to understand the difference between myth and fact, and to understand how history changes when seen through the eyes of other participants.  She was very attentive and she did find the differences between the stories interesting.

To get an idea of the text, you might check out this article on the National Geographic Kids website.  It is excerpted from the book.  There is also a discussion with the authors available on the C-Span website.  I had hoped to direct you to a link that perhaps showed some of the illustrations, as I could never do them justice.  Perhaps you would have better luck with Google than I?

Big Sis is a very bright seven, but I think we'll come back to this book in a couple of years.  Some subjects are still a bit difficult.  Something I often do is read up on things myself, and add my own comments to whatever simpler book we're reading.    Does anyone else do this, too?

We have a couple of old History Channel documentaries purchased from Amazon Instant Video, from back in the days when the History Channel actually showed history documentaries.  Sigh.  You know it's true when even South Park builds an episode around it.  (And yes, if you offend easily, do not click that link.  Watch the video below instead.)

I am thankful that old History Channel documentaries are available for streaming, even if they're seldom on TV anymore. Tomorrow:  less history, more crafts and Macy's parade stuff.  Yippee! P.S.  I had the mister read this post to see if it made sense.  He said, "No, it's good.  The tone's very different, though."  Ah, migraines.  They make me so boring and un-fun.

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  1. Good for you for introducing history to the kids! I remember my high school history classes - every single day was spent either copying copious notes from the overhead, or watching a very boring and dated filmstrip.

    1. I don't remember if mine was an Honors History class or just a regular one taught by the Honors History guy, but when he was on-subject, his voice would droooooone. He was very funny when he went off-topic. But yes, I was bored. And I didn't do well, and retained very little from that class.

  2. ha ha ha! I'm laughing at that last bit, but not laughing at your migraine -- my bro has them BAD and he suffers terribly.

    Andrew and I have discussed this a lot -- when did the Hist Channel become NOT the History Channel???

    Very cool re the Pilgrims wearing bright colors, I approve :)

    Feel better! We're supposed to be driving south a couple hrs to have a T-day reunion with A's side of the family but it's pouring rain and we're nervous about flooding -- we might go down on T-day and then drive right back the next day...


    Feel better!!! xoxoxo

    1. I started griping about the History Channel about the time Ice Road Truckers started. What does that have to do with history??? And the occasional UFO show - in a historical context - is fine, but to make UFOs and monsters big series shows? To air marathons of this crap on Thanksgiving night??? AAAARRRRRGGGGGH! We had digital cable and our DVR when all this started, so we could console ourselves with the Military Channel or History International. Now the good stuff is on Netflix, Amazon, or DVD.

      Our Thanksgiving just became a bit easier. We'll spend tomorrow cooking, then we'll actually take everything to my dad's. My grandma is making a few things, too. It's nice that I can give myself a few more days without worrying about the house. We usually host, and our dining area is TINY. I have to have everything put away and organized to have room for everyone!

      So far, no headache today. Knocking on wood. I went most of yesterday feeling all right, before it came roaring back in the evening with a vengeance.

      I did price my Christmas tree today... I think it will have to wait until Saturday, but I'm giddy with excitement!


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