So Dies November

Onward into December.

Put away the pumpkin spice and break out the peppermint.

3 weeks of Thanksgiving means 5 weeks of Christmas. Next year it’s back to 4 and 4.

I kind of missed Thanksgiving, strep laid me out and I lost the whole weekend.

But I finished MISTER FRIDAY! Buy it.

Anyway, Christmas is underway and it’s finally time to go full-bore on music and cartoons.

I’m editing a few pieces and gearing up to send out a few others. And of course, reading.

Hope you had a good November. This is not a very interesting blog post, but then again, nobody reads these, so who cares?

6 Historical Details about Thanksgiving (and you won’t BELIEVE #7)

This year both our kids are into reading, so we picked up some library books about this holiday, and learned/remembered some cool facts about how Thanksgiving came to be:

1) The modern holiday is an amalgamation of traditions dating back almost 400 years, from early colonial America. The main feast we celebrate took place in 1621.

2) The English Pilgrims that came over on the Mayflower had a hard first winter on this continent, suffering a 50 percent casualty rate from starvation and exposure. During the next harvest, they ended up with so much food, they knew they would do more than survive. They could even get fat.

3) This was unusual back then! We take our food for granted in America nowadays because it is so easy to come by, compared to how hard people had to work for it in 1621. It was about 85% of what you did.

4) The Pilgrims called their place “Plimoth Plantation.” The local Native American tribesfolk were the Wampanoag people. One of them spoke English, the famous Squanto (or Tisquantum), but he himself was not Wampanoag.

Squanto had had a hard life; he was taken into slavery, sold to the Spanish, escaped, came back to America, and found that his tribe, the Patuxet, had died of disease. He was the last one. He joined the Wampanoag people, and was with them when they met the Pilgrims.

5) As the Pilgrims were celebrating their massive harvest, the chief/king of the Wampanoag, called Massasoit, decided to join them, and brought 90 of his men with them. The English and the Natives celebrated by eating food and playing games for days. (Probably to avoid leftovers.) It was a joyous event for all present.

6) Thanksgiving Day was officially established in 1789 by George Washington. Later, Thomas Jefferson said “nah,” and made it less of a big deal. Americans celebrated it on and off until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln said “Boom, we’re doing this thing.”

7) Maybe John Wilkes Booth really just agreed with Thomas Jefferson. (Boom, also.)

So there you have it. Have a sit, have a think, and realize what a miraculous age we live in. There are still hungry people, yes. We haven’t solved all our problems yet.

But food is so readily available to us, in such a wide variety, all year long without interruption, border to border, coast to coast.

It’s a big deal to wrestle sustenance out of the ground. Let’s never take it for granted. Similarly, let’s be thankful for those who make it happen, and for those who celebrate with us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Recent Reads, Fever Dream edition

This is a big update so let’s keep it quick:

The Last Wish, Andrzej Sapkowski. This is from The Witcher, a popular Polish fantasy series that started in the 90s, became a video game, and will soon be a Netflix series with Henry Cavill. I got a ways into the audiobook before I caught the flu and spent a whole night dreaming CRAZY stuff about The Witcher while trying not to barf. So I couldn’t finish it. But it was interesting.

Squanto, Charles River Editors. A seasonal pick, and a really good one. It relies on a lot of original sources, which are rare enough, so it paints a more accurate picture than the footnote stuff you get in school.

The Witch Elm, Tana French. An extremely talented author, this book had a strong hook and gorgeous writing, but it wandered and ultimately failed to land for me.

Skyward, Brandon Sanderson. Love this dude, love his stories, this was one of his quicker-paced books and was really well done.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson. She’s a famous blogger, known for her humor, so I picked this up. It was really hilarious in parts, but like most blogger books, it got repetitive in tone and moral.

Veritas, Quinn Coleridge. A supernatural semi-frontier story in 1890s Colorado, featuring a main character who is a blind-mute. The latter half delved into a lot of darkness and torture but it was overall a good read and I will pick up the sequel.

Dragonwatch: Wrath of the Dragon King, Brandon Mull. A favorite series of mine, though apparently these are now coming out eighteen months apart? Bummer to wait that long. Typical good middle grade fantasy, though the ending cliffhanger involves a main character getting amnesia, and I kind of hate that as a plot device. Nevertheless I will read the next one…when I’m halfway to my next-next birthday. 😡