Editorial: Are Americans the Thanksgiving dinner guests, or the hosts? Both, of course

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Thanksgiving celebrations are often homecoming, with older children returning to the nest with their babies, for dinner or for an entire long weekend. Or perhaps the home of a cousin or a close friend is designated as the headquarters for the ritual feast and as the home base from which to plan Black Friday excursions and enjoy college football games. . So who is the host and who is the guest? There is not always a clear line.

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If this is your home, you are pretty sure you are the host. But then, what if an older brother is bringing in the turkey, stuffing, and everything else, and will do the carving? This can change the politics of the whole matter. And family politics can be just as controversial as any other type of struggle for power and prestige, as the roles of host and guest each bring their own traditions, expectations, and obligations.

The nice guest brings a small gift or treat as a token of gratitude. The good host provides nutrition, and provides bedding for the night in case the weather becomes dangerous. The host does not refuse the guest. The guest follows the host’s code of conduct. Details change but the rules of hospitality remain ancient and sacred, whether for family or strangers.


Who were the hosts and who were the guests at the three-day autumn harvest festival at Plymouth Plantation in the fall of 1621? Who felt what responsibility, and to whom?


We have very little information about what has come to consider the first Thanksgiving. We only know that one colonist, Edward Winslow, told that a team of four pilgrims came back from hunting with enough birds to feed the settlement for a week, and he massosite, the leader of the Wampanoag Confederation, “some of his ninety men” joined them and added five greens to the menu.

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The story many of us learned in elementary school is that of mutual respect and friendship. Squanto, a Petxate man living in the Wampanoag Confederation, served as a translator and taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn and other crops. The first harvest was abundant, and the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag celebrated together.

The adult version adds some much-needed detail. tissue (Squanto) could only speak English because English raiders had kidnapped him and sold him into slavery in Europe. When they returned to their homeland, they found that Every second Patuxet was dead Possibly the English plague, maybe smallpox. In fact, the only reason the Pilgrims settled, farmed, and built was because the disease left them. petxet land Empty.

so who was the host first thanksgiving, Pilgrims certainly believed they were building their homes and growing their crops on the vacant land they shared their food with in their settlement, visiting Wampanoag.

The Wampanoag would have scoffed at the suggestion that these wretched foreigners from another continent, who had made such poor plans and who would surely have died without Wampanoag help, that the first winter and spring, were the hosts of this celebration on a land that so Clearly not those people.

The Wampanoag today says that the pilgrims did not even invite him to the feast. As Reported in the Washington Post, they say, the celebratory immigrants fired up their guns, and the worried Wampanoag showed hope for war, but stayed for dinner.

As the years passed, more Englishmen kept coming, bringing more disease, taking more land. Massoite’s son, metacomet, realized too late that the colonists meant the removal of his people, and he went to war against them. The colonists, victorious, killed Metacomet and turned their heads in Plymouth, the place where their father and the Pilgrims shared the first Thanksgiving feast half a century earlier.

Today Wampanoag, understandably, doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but instead celebrates the fourth Thursday in November with a . designate as national day of mourning,

It’s been 400 years since the first Thanksgiving and we’ve come to admire ourselves as a gracious host who provides shelter to the deported, outcast, and pilgrims. Somewhere in the back of our collective psyche, there must be a warning against opening our doors to any of those people, because they may just be who our social ancestors were – the guests of Hell. We can share a feast with strangers, and then imagine them turning their heads at our own dinner table.

But this is America. We contend with one another for the privilege of being a host (and the right to set the rules of the house) and the honor of being a guest (and the right to expect shelter and sustenance). We are both host and guest at the same time. And neither. We’re family – fussy and obnoxious, but probably open and (dare we say it) loving, as long as there’s enough stuffing to go around.

And there it is. For us, and even for unexpected guests, if we remember to pass the plate on after serving ourselves.

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