In just four more years, Thanksgiving will be 400 years old. I love to host a big Thanksgiving feast for family and friends. Perhaps that’s because I am a descendant of Miles Standish, that fiery-tempered red-haired soldier who accompanied the pilgrims on the Mayflower, and who, of course, sat at the original Thanksgiving feast in 1621.
The classic menu we enjoy today focuses on few items from the original feast. About the only original item would be turkey, and that would have been wild and gamey. Deer meat and seafood were abundant, as were many root vegetables, but not potatoes, yams, or sweet potatoes, far-later introductions to the region. There was probably no cranberry sauce due to lack of sugar.
While the menu evolved, the spirit of thanks, the gathering of family, and the sense of brotherhood and community remained cornerstones of the holiday.
On my last New England trip, I witnessed countless wild turkeys in the countryside and countless “natives” willing to help with directions, education on lobster types for cooking, and all-around friendliness. It could be we appeared vulnerable, or it could be a play off our own inviting friendliness; I don’t know, but it was clearly there. I can only imagine how incompetent and helpless the pilgrims appeared. Despite their durability and tenacity, they were in fact “in over their heads.”
Today, our population seems a bit less hospitable, or at least divided on attitudes toward immigrants, and one can ponder myriad reasons why in a more-political venue. This is about travel and geography.
How does travel integrate with my knowledge of this holiday? I’ve seen the wildlife and sampled the seafood of the region. While I’ve not wintered in New England, I’ve been on enough ski trips to know how harsh winter can be, as well as how a warm fire in a shelter can be quite inviting. I’ve witnessed and been on the receiving end of kindness in more than 40 states and more than 75 foreign countries. It often occurs around a table of food.
Compassion is perhaps the most universal trait we have as humans. As travelers, we are by nature more vulnerable than on our home turf, but that’s exactly why we can experience these helping hands. While this isn’t the reason to travel, it’s clearly a benefit. Whether you travel north, south, east, or west, or whether you go to rural or urban destinations, you’ll understand people in that region better once you’ve been there. And, it’s exactly that understanding and experience that adds to your own humanity and reduces many prejudices.
We have much to be thankful for in this country. Just the fact that travel is a leisure option indicates we are blessed with having our base needs covered. Here at Recreation News we hope to help you capitalize on that opportunity. Happy Thanksgiving!