As us ex-pats once again
hunch over the turkey, giblet gravy dripping from our collective
cheeks and chins, let us not forget the spirit behind this special
day - Giving thanks. When my Mexican friends ask me the meaning,
significance or origen of this holiday, this is what I say. The
European Pilgrims (whites) landed at Plymouth Rock and were welcomed
by the indigenous Americans (redskins). The Pilgrims introduced
new foods and helped with the technology of the day. The Indians
helped tending the crops and were excellent hunting and fishing
guides. When the fall crop came in both groups decided to share
some of the harvest in a big fiesta. Both groups were thankful for
the help given by the other. After the big party there was square
dancing and liquor drinking and all was right with the world. It
was so much fun it became a tradition.
As years passed more and more Pilgrims arrived by the boatloads
- literally. It became apparent that at least 13 colonies needed
to be set aside for Pilgrims and their friends - Only. Meanwhile
the Indians are like, “Whoa!”, “What the ?!”,
and “Hey, we wuz here 1st!”. The Pilgrims then produced
a fancy legal document called a treaty. It came in it´s own
padded folder. The Indians were flabbergasted when a Pilgrim opened
the folder. It had a shiny gold seal with profiled drawings of other
white men. Since the document was in the King´s English and
written by an attorney, the Pilgrims translated the document by
using charades, hand signals and doing a jig all the while smiling
broadly with the conspiratorial winks thrown in. By now the Indian
Chief was numb by sensory overload and when he signed the document
a band struck up a tune while a big apple cart was wheeled out.
The cart was piled high with fruits, vegetables, nuts and firewater.
As it turned out, according to the treaty’s wording, the apple
cart and it´s contents were payment in full for the 13 colonies.
addition to the Pilgrims, boatloads of people began arriving from
Africa (blacks). From the indians point of view, it appeared the
African people had also entered into some type of treaty with the
Pilgrims.When a redskin wished to address a white person, more and
more often they had to get an okay from the black man. Color was
everything. Long before the Pilgrims broke the first of many treaties,
the fall harvest fiesta had evolved into a Pilgrim-only affair.
Just after the first broken treaty the Indian Wars began and would
continue for the next several hundred years. To this very day the
Thanksgiving Holiday is continued by the decendants of that first
boatful of Pilgrims. Now you know why the vast indian reservations
scattered throughout the western states are going to be quiet this
Thanksgiving. To them it´s just another weekday with not much
giving or thanking going on. Meanwhile, many of us prefer to forget
about the hundreds of years of war and extermination and focus on
those first years when all was right with the world and there was
plenty of everything for everybody, provided of course you were
Excuse my straying off topic which is - giving thanks. Last week
I asked many of you what you are thankful for this year. There were
a surprising amount of cynical responses but some very noble ones
also. It was touching hearing of your experiences and the variety
of relevations this question produced. They were much better than
the list I prepared. I made a list of 10 things to be thankful for
this year. I prepared my list before the interviews began so as
not to influence my own list or get cross contaminated or whatever
you call it. It is a fun exercise and I urge you to do it. You will
get in touch with your feelings.
So here is my list of top 10 things to be thankful for in
10) Hot water - If hot showers didn´t exist I would
just do without. Can you imagine the odor?! I mean it. I hate cold
9) The use of all my fingers and toes - As opposed to what was going
on with them before.
8) The 2004 Presidential Election - It was just like an old-timey
election where the citizens did all the voting. The use of substitute
voters wearing black robes and voting in secret chambers was somehow
7) Being single - It allows a guy the luxury of time. Time to clean
out the attic, read 15th century Italian poetry and time to really
relax. Only a single person is assured of not being one day closer
to disappointment, heartbreak and despair.
6) Dr. Salvador Quiroz, Yuka Oshima and Tom Frazee - in 2003 these
three people banded together and made decisions that saved my life.
Technically, this is from T-Day 2003 but I am still giving thanks.
4) A roof over my head - There is an alternative, you know?
3) Having known Wendi Frahm - Right or wrong she was always great!
I miss her still.
2) Winning the weekly football pool at Restaurant La Vida - Hey!
330 pesos is nothing to sneeze at nowadays!
1) YOU!!! - I always save the best for last! Since I know personally
all six of you who read this column I have to tell you that I appreciate
your support, I value our friendship and I wish you a great Thanksgiving
and hope you are able to spend it with someone you love, or at least
Now a really keen thing to do is go and make your own top ten list.
You may surprise yourself! Honestly, I floored myself making my
list. How often does that happen? Give some thanks!