You’ve heard all about the First Thanksgiving. Most of the stories are myths, but at least you’ve heard about it. Unlike the Second Thanksgiving…. (More)

As you surely know, the First Thanksgiving was held in 1621 to celebrate an excellent harvest of what the Pilgrims called Indian corn. And there’s the first myth.

The Native Americans didn’t teach the Pilgrims how to plant corn. Squirrels did. Yes, we know how to plant corn. Not that it’s difficult to plant corn. Dig, place, cover. You’d think the Pilgrims could’ve figured that out.

But I digress. The point is, it should’ve been called Squirrel corn. But they left us out of the story, because humans always do.

Sigh. It’s Thanksgiving and I’m supposed to be grateful, not grumpy. Deep breath.

Okay. Anyway, the Pilgrims had a big harvest of Indian Squirrel corn so they got together for a huge feast. And I mean huge:

The primary sources above only list a few items that were on the Thanksgiving “menu”, namely five deer, a large number of turkeys and waterfowl, cod, and bass; plus the harvest, which consisted of wheat, corn, barley, and perhaps any peas that survived the scorching. To that list, we can probably add a few additional things that are known to have been native to the area and eaten by the Pilgrims: clams, mussels, lobster, eel, ground nuts, acorns, walnuts, chestnuts, squashes, and beans. Fruits and berries such as strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and gooseberries were available growing wild. Pilgrim house-gardens may have included a number of English vegetables and herbs, perhaps things like onions, leeks, sorrel, yarrow, lettuce, carrots, radishes, currants, liverwort, watercress, and others. It is unlikely much in the way of supplies brought on the Mayflower survived, such as Holland Cheese, olive oil, butter, salt pork, sugar, spices, lemons, beer, aqua-vitae, or bacon. It appears the Pilgrims may have had some chickens with them, so likely had access to a limited number of eggs. No mention of swine is found in any account of the first year. They did not yet have any goats or cattle: the first of those arrived on the ship Anne in 1623.

The official story is that the Pilgrims didn’t have a Second Thanksgiving. The next one, according to the official story, was designated by George Washington in 1789. But that’s another myth.

Not the George Washington part. The part about the Pilgrims. They did have a Second Thanksgiving. And it didn’t go well.

We think of the Pilgrims as one big, happy colony. Maybe they were at first, but I doubt it. I’ve seen a replica of the Mayflower, and it was tiny. And they had 66 days of the Pilgrim kids asking “Are we there yet?” They couldn’t even sing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” because they didn’t drink. By the time they landed, I bet they were already pretty much fed up with each other.

And by their second year, the usual divisions had happened. The governor and his clique put their kids in Miles Standish Preparatory Academy. Their nickname was the Lions because of the British Royal Arms. The other kids went to Plymouth High. They were the Cowboys because Those Kids came over on the Anne, with the cows.

So the Second Thanksgiving was also the First Thanksgiving Day Game, between Miles Standish Prep and Plymouth High. This was already a huge rivalry. The preppies called Plymouth High kids the Rocks (because duh), while the Plymouth High kids called the preppies Standoffish (to annoy Miles).

And if that weren’t enough, the Cowboys’ quarterback was dating one of the Lions’ cheerleaders. They tried to keep it a secret, but you know how small towns are.

Anyway, the moms and most of the daughters (except the cheerleaders) were cooking deer and turkey and waterfowl and cod and bass and all the rest. There was some tension between them, of course, but mostly they were happy that their husbands and sons were at The Big Game because that kept them away from the stuffing and the pie and the peanut butter cookies.

But at The Big Game, the tension was building. Late in the fourth quarter, the Lions were leading 3-0. (The forward pass hadn’t been invented yet. These were, after all, people who couldn’t figure out how to plant corn.) But the Cowboys had the ball on the Lions’ six-yard-line. It was Fourthe and Goale and nobody wanted overtime with all that food waiting. So the Cowboys’ quarterback took the snap and plowed into the pile and kept on plowing until he reached the ende zone.

He bowed in prayer because that was required after all big plays. (Some things never change.) And his girlfriend – yes, the Lions’ cheerleader – dropped her pom poms and ran out onto the field to give him a big, wet….

You can imagine how that went. First, boys and girls were never supposed to kiss, because Pilgrims. And Lions’ girls should especially never kiss Cowboys, because Standoffish.

“We Gather Together” segued into “Onward, Christian Soldiers” and the First Postgame Riot was underway. Goalposts were torn down. The ball ended up stuffed in … well, that part is probably myth. I don’t think it could fit.

By the time the husbands and sons got to the feast, they were covered in mud and looked like … well, what you’d expect them to look like after the First Postgame Riot. Of course their wives sent them all straight down to Lake Scinidipi (it’s a Native American name) to wash up. Plus it was late November, so the wives figured a dunk in Lake Scinidipi (or maybe the Pilgrim teens named it) would cool them off.

Well, it did. Indeed, that’s the origin of the term “blue bloods.”

But dinner was cold by the time the husbands and sons cleaned up and dried off and buckled all those buckles. And dinner was even colder by the time they finished the Thanksgiving Prayer …

… because Someone had to “thank the Lord for being there for me in the Big Game.” The cheerleader giggled, and that set off the First Thanksgiving Food Fight.

And that’s why you’ve never heard about the Second Thanksgiving. But the squirrels feasted on the leftovers, and we’ve passed the story down.

Anyway, that’s why the Lions and Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving. And that’s why they don’t play each other….


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Happy Thanksgiving!