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  • Writer's pictureAncient Paths

Thanksgiving, Then and Now

by C. McCraw

As long ago

as the nineteen sixties

I was an elementary school student.

Every November

the teachers ladled out the story

of the first Thanksgiving.

We did reenactments.

The cafeteria ladies prepared a feast

and we dressed as Pilgrims or Indians.

I always opted to be a Pilgrim.

My mom provided a black blouse,

long black skirt and white apron

and in class we made headpieces

with construction paper.

Bands around the head for the Indians

with construction paper feathers,

bonnets for the girl Pilgrims,

from a pattern of paper

held together with Scotch Tape

and Elmer's Glue.

Now, as a single adult,

I visit friends

for Thanksgiving meals.

I am grateful to God

for the lavish spread,

the conversation, laughter

and glow of candles

from the centerpieces.

But, I'm nostalgic for

the simple story

I learned at ages nine and ten

that omitted the aftermath

of that first feast,

the diseases the Pilgrims brought,

the bloodshed and fights

for territory,

the driving of the Native Americans

into reservations.

I've long had an adult understanding

of sorrow and gray shadows, but

once upon a time

Thanksgiving was

a tale for children,

as black and white

as the Pilgrim costume

I used to wear

for my first

Thanksgiving feasts.

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