Have you ever taken the time to ponder the meaning of Thanksgiving? Too often, we get caught up in the hype and hoopla to really embrace the true spirit of this special day giving thanks for what we have. Many of us take for granted the turkey, m...
Have you ever taken the time to ponder the meaning of Thanksgiving?
Too often, we get caught up in the hype and hoopla to really embrace the true spirit of this special day giving thanks for what we have.
Many of us take for granted the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and all the fixings. And let's not forget the pumpkin pie.
And all in the cozy confines of our home.
Some people aren't as fortunate, as I was reminded this past week by my friend and co-worker, Dorreen Yellow Bird, who spent her early years on the Fort Berthhold Indian Reservation.
"We had a large family and not a lot of money," she said. "And we didn't have turkey in our area as some did, so we didn't have a traditional Thanksgiving. I don't think it was until the fifth or sixth grade when we had our first turkey dinner."
As with her ancestors, Dorreen's family relied on Mother Nature for much of their food, and since turkeys weren't indigenous to their part of the country, they relied on fowl such as prairie chickens and pheasants and big game, most notably deer.
And, of course, they had vegetables.
"Corn was more important than turkey," said Dorreen, adding that her father had a special corn that he planted each spring from seeds saved from the previous fall.
Many of their simple one-pot meals (a lot of soups and stews), containing venision, corn or other vegetables, probably were representative of the food that the 90 or so American Indians brought to share with the Pilgrims on that first Thanksgiving in Plymouth in 1621.
The Pilgrims were celebrating their first bountiful harvest after a very tough year, one in which the Indians helped them survive by introducing local produce, wildlife and cooking methods to the newcomers.
Their feast probably wasn't much by today's standards, but that wasn't the point.
So, when you're nibbling on that turkey drumstick or asking for a second helping of dressing, pause for a moment, remember what this holiday really is all about, and give thanks.
Better yet, if you know someone who's less fortunate, invite them over for dinner. That's the American way.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. He can be reached at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, ext. 136, or email@example.com .