Explaining Thanksgiving to little sisterOpinion

“Thanksgiving break,” is so thrilling that I had to Skype back to France to say that I was on a “Thanksgiving break” to my family. I was excited not so much for the meaning part of the event but for the no-school, the no-5 a.m.-practices and the me-time that it included.

Nobody was on Skype but my little sister was on Facebook. Close enough; I shared the good news: “Thanksgiving break!” 

Of course, Thanksgiving is a holiday that France does not have. Of course, once you travel here from overseas you really feel the impact of the Thanksgiving spirit and the Black Friday magic. So, of course, my 14-year-old sister had no clue about what it was.

“What is Thanksgiving?”

A little while after those three words and two question marks pop-quiz, I answer an elongated word and three suspension points.


Does she want the historical meaning of Thanksgiving? Or does she want the main value that Thanksgiving conveys?

Now, a great sister has to give to the little ones the entire and full picture. Even if it is blurred. And I am a great sister!

Thanksgiving historical meaning: the beginning of the end of a brotherhood

Some history class teaches the historical meaning of Thanksgiving. I was a freshman in college when I took American History. And as all typical international students, I was struggling between deciphering what the 1,000-words-per-second professor was saying and staying awake. My brain took 85 percent of the information and my memory left off half of it. 

Still, I recall that it is a pilgrims and Indians story.

Long story short, the Pilgrims from England (or Ireland– one of those) bolted away from Europe because they couldn’t express freely their religion over there. So they took a ship, called it Mayflower, and decided to find happiness, the promise of prosperity and land ownership that God promises them somewhere else.

 It was a harsh time. Have you ever spend a winter in a ship, somewhat lost in the ocean, with more than 100 passengers? Probably not, but I heard it was not really comfy. Some died, disease spread, total bad trip!

Thankfully, they landed in Massachusetts; the locals were Indians at that time. The pilgrims were weak and ill; so the Indians took care of them and taught them how to survive on the new land. And when everybody got better, the crops for the food grew, they organize a big party. And one of the pilgrims raised his glass:

-Hey I just wanted to say…just thanks for…giving, guys.

-Your welcome, brother!

They party for three days straight.

Happiness and food, thanksgiving right there!

But then the music went decrescendo, and the pilgrims were started to get tired of sharing a land, a gift of God that was supposed to be just theirs.

-What in the world are they still doing here anyway?

-I don’t even know. Go ask them! 

-Excuse-me, Squanto…

-Hey, brother, what’s up?

-I was just wondering, when are you guys going to leave? Because, I mean, thanks for the medicine, the corn and that turkey, so scrumptious, all that we are so thankful. But…er… we need OUR land now.

-What do you mean “YOUR land”? What do you mean “leave”? William, did you catch that fever again? Nobody has to leave. It is okay. You guys can stay.

-I think you do not understand “Feather.” Actually I changed my mind. You all have two choices now. Either you stay work for us to accomplish God’s will of OUR prosperity…or you die with Jesus.

William actually thought he was being a good Samaritan. Instead of kicking them out, he gave them two choices: Either get baptized and be enslaved or get baptized and be killed. In both cases, their soul was saved.

-Can’t be neighbor?

William took his gun to shoot at one of the turkeys.


-…Pocahontas, go get me my arrows!

But back in the day was not like today with the bullet-proof vest and the bullet extraction surgery. Back in the day, the one who had the gun won. So, it went downhill from there, with fights and slavery and more slavery and more fights.

“Wow…Thanksgiving sucks,” my little sister said.

No, Thanksgiving does not suck because the spirit of Thanksgiving is still authentic.

Main value that Thanksgiving conveys:

Not like Christmas and Santa Claus or Easter and the Easter Bunny, Thanksgiving is still authentic. People gather, cook, laugh, love, give, sing without materialistic gifts being involved. Each other’s presence is the gift.

The three days straight of food-stuffing and wine-drinking of the pilgrims and the Indians as brothers in peace is the spirit that Thanksgiving carries.

Nowadays, people like to remember just the good part and forget about the bloody part.

Thanksgiving is more a way to say “Let’s celebrate and move on. Come on, no hard feelings.”

In that case, Thanksgiving is not the name that the celebration should have. It should be more of a “Thankssorry” or “Let’s make up over some turkey, brothers.”

And I hope you all enjoyed your let’s-make-up-over-some-turkey-brothers break!

Paulene Wendy

About Paulene Wendy

Paulene Wendy Ntsame Assoumou has contributed 22 posts to The Delta.

Paulene-Wendy Ntsame Assoumou is majoring in Mass Communication and is a member of the Lady Viking basketball program. An international student from France where she graduated from high school in the Literature field, she wants to travel the world and learn sign language. Wendy aspires to be a writer.

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