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A Pilgrim Primer
To help feed the mob of cousins, aunts, and grandparents at a pre-Thanksgiving family gathering, Talie and I planned to make muffins for breakfast. We were tired of zucchini, and blueberries were scarce, so we settled on cranberry.
As we mixed and measured, I told Talie that cranberries might have been part of the Pilgrims' very first Thanksgiving celebration.
"What's a Pligrim?" Talie asked.
I backed up and explained how long ago only native Americans lived here, and that the Pilgrims were one of the first groups who sailed from Europe and managed to make this land their home.
My dad, who has made his second career geneology, tells us we can trace our family roots back 13 generations to four of these adventurers. This impressed Talie. Even more amazing to her was the notion of living off the land, eating berries, ducks, and mussels.
"You mean, the Pilgrims had no grocery stores?" Right, I explained, adding that they had a famous Indian chief and a lot of Indians to thank for helping them learn to harvest corn and other foods.
My memory was a little rusty on a few points, so while the muffins baked, I got on the computer, where www.Plimoth.org set us straight on the name of the helpful tribe (Wampanoag) and their instrumental leader (known as Massasoit, but his real name was actually Ousamequin).
Most interesting was a rundown of the first Thanksgiving menu, which, it turns out, is a far cry from what we think of as traditional. As Talie sampled a muffin, we decided we'd take cranberries and turkey over fresh eel and venison any day.
"I love these cranberries!" she squealed in delight. "Thank you, Indians!"