Saturday, November 26, 2005

Pass the graham crackers . . .

Spot awoke from his tryptophan and Vouvray induced coma yesterday, and found out that the internets weren’t working, at least Spot’s weren’t. Spot spent the day on the telephone with people who spoke a very strange language about DSL slam setups (he thinks that what it was, anyway), and a very sad thing called packet rejections. Poor packets. Anyway, it got fixed last evening. Thank you Chad.

There have already been some rude comments about Katie’s paean to Thanksgiving. Far be it from Spot to pile on. Although the canine tendency to do that is undeniable; think of a dogpile in football!

Katie gives us her childhood Thanksgiving memories. Most of us have some kind of warm recollections of Thanksgiving observance of our youth: grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, parents, siblings, shenanigans; why one time I remember that my cousins and I . . . . well, never mind.

Katie’s recollections are covered with a thick crust of sugary goo, sort of like cinnamon rolls with too much caramel on them. They’re hard to swallow.

They’re also a little martial:
Growing up in Fort Dodge, Iowa, I always woke up early on Thanksgiving morning. Our family traditionally hosted about 45 relatives for dinner, and I was proud of my position as chief table-setter. In the dining room I carefully laid out the lace tablecloth, and arranged the little wicker cornucopia with the brightly colored gourds tumbling out of it. Then I set the card tables in the living room, and draped bed sheets as table coverings over the Ping-Pong table downstairs.

My most challenging mission was to scrounge enough candleholders and saltshakers for every room. [italics are Spot’s]

Ah, capo de flatware. A splendid job for Katie, one that she could apply her razor-sharp perfectionism to all morning and most of the afternoon, and thereby stay out of people’s way in the kitchen. Spot is sure that the job she did is still the stuff of legend in Ft. Dodge, Iowa.

And of course, Katie can’t let a column go without preaching to us about our miserable failure to properly observe holidays: Christmas (of course), Independence Day, Memorial Day, and (this must have made Katie shudder) Labor Day.

Spot on the other hand likes to observe, or at least think about, the post-First Thanksgiving bonfire:
The notion of American exceptionalism—that the United States alone has the right, whether by divine sanction or moral obligation, to bring civilization, or democracy, or liberty to the rest of the world, by violence if necessary—is not new. It started as early as 1630 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony when Governor John Winthrop uttered the words that centuries later would be quoted by Ronald Reagan. Winthrop called the Massachusetts Bay Colony a “city upon a hill.” Reagan embellished a little, calling it a “shining city on a hill.”

The idea of a city on a hill is heartwarming. It suggests what George Bush has spoken of: that the United States is a beacon of liberty and democracy. People can look to us and learn from and emulate us.

In reality, we have never been just a city on a hill. A few years after Governor Winthrop uttered his famous words, the people in the city on a hill moved out to massacre the Pequot Indians. Here’s a description by William Bradford, an early settler, of Captain John Mason’s attack on a Pequot village.

Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword, some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived that they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.

This is from an essay by the historian Howard Zinn. Spotty wonders if the Pilgrims made s’mores!


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