Thanksgiving almost didn’t happen

By Rod Haxton, editor

(Editor’s note: The following is how the first Thanksgiving almost never happened. The events are real . . . for the most part.)

It was late November and a number of the Pilgrim men were gathered around the hearth, drinking ale and talking about the excellent fall harvest

“It feels wonderful to have had such a bountiful crop,” said a Pilgrim. “Do you suppose we should have that Thanksgiving feast that Gov. Bradford suggested more than three months ago?”

“Are you crazy?” said Pilgrim McConnell. “We have more pressing matters to deal with. This afternoon, in fact, I’m going acorn hunting.”

“How do you do it?” asked a Pilgrim.

“The demands of your job are never-ending,” said another sympathetic Pilgrim.

“It’s what being a leader is all about,” answered Pilgrim McConnell as he took another drink of ale.

The door swings open and a breathless Pilgrim announces, “Have you heard the news? Gov. Bradford has issued a Pilgrim Order declaring that a day of Thanksgiving will be held next week.”

The entire room is stunned.

“He did what?” stammered Pilgrim McConnell. “Does he not realize that it’s the job of the Pilgrim Council to determine if and when we have feasts? He can’t do that. It’s un-Pilgrimanium.”

“He said he was tired of waiting for you to finish gathering acorns,” said the Pilgrim in the doorway. “He’s already sent a messenger to invite Squanto and his people to join us.”

“This has clearly gotten out of hand,” protested Pilgrim Boehner. “The fact we were doing nothing doesn’t give him the authority to take action. This is the Church of England all over again. It’s tyranny. What next? Is he going to say that witch dunking is illegal?”

“Surely not,” said another Pilgrim. “What would we do with our Saturdays.”

“But a day of Thanksgiving sounds like a good idea,” said one Pilgrim sheepishly.

The others in the room glared at him, after which Pilgrim McConnell said, “It’s only a good idea if we do it. You were in this room two years ago when I said our number one goal is to make sure that Gov. Bradford is the worst governor we’ve ever had.”

“But he’s the only governor we’ve ever had,” the Pilgrim pointed out.

“That doesn’t matter. We can’t let him take any of the credit for a day of Thanksgiving,” said Pilgrim Boehner. “We have to put a stop to this.”

“I have an idea,” said Pilgrim Kobach. “When Squanto and his people show up, we make them prove to us who they really are. How do we really know they’re Indians? For all we know, they could be the French trying to get a free meal.”

“How do you suggest doing that?” wondered Pilgrim Brownback.

“We make them get identification from us that says they really are Indians and that this is their land which we happen to be taking from them,” says Pilgrim Kobach. “Only I make the process of getting this identification so difficult and time-consuming that eventually they get frustrated, they go back to their village and the entire Thanksgiving feast becomes a huge failure.”

“Great plan,” said Pilgrim Brownback as the room breaks into applause. “But is that enough?”

“I say we shut down the town if Gov. Bradford goes through with his Thanksgiving plans,” said Pilgrim Huelskamp. “We close the food warehouse so he can’t serve a meal. We force everyone to stay home. We bring everything to a standstill.”

There’s a pause.


“That sounds a little extreme, but it certainly makes our point,” says Pilgrim McConnell. “And when the warehouse is closed and people start getting hungry then we can put the blame on Gov. Bradford. It was his decision to issue a Pilgrim Order that forced this to happen. This was the only way we could respond in order to protect our rights as Pilgrims and to prevent Bradford from establishing his own fiefdom.”

“And then I suggest we issue every child in our town a musket . . . make that two muskets . . . in order to prove that we are a land of free Pilgrims,” continued Pilgrim Huelskamp. “And anyone who doesn’t agree with us should be put in the stocks for three days. And if someone doesn’t agree with our idea of free speech then we exile them into the wilderness. And if that isn’t enough . . . .”

“Okay, we get your point, Pilgrim,” says Pilgrim Boehner.

“There you go again, not letting me finish. That’s the way it always is around here. You don’t respect me. But let me remind you I will not be intimidated,” Pilgrim Huelskamp continued.

“Will someone take him out of here,” said Pilgrim Boehner as two large Pilgrims each grabbed one of Pilgrim Huelskamp’s arms and carried him out the door. “He never learns.”

“Thanks to what we’ve done here today, we’ve prevented the governor from starting something that 300 years from now people will say is a huge waste of time and money,” said Pilgrim McConnell.

“But it seems to be what the people want,” says a Pilgrim.

“The people don’t know what they want. That’s our job,” said Pilgrim McConnell angrily. “Three hundred years from now, when people are still dunking witches and this Thanksgiving thing has been long forgotten, people will be singing ballads about our contribution to Pilgrim history.”

Rod Haxton can be reached at

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