Teenagers have a way of making any occasion special. I don’t know how they do it, but they do. No matter how thrilling the event, a kid between the ages of thirteen and nineteen can suck the life out of it in a matter of seconds.
Nowhere is this trait more evident than at a family holiday, like Thanksgiving, for example. Don’t you just love the element of enthusiasm and joy that a teenager brings to such an occasion? Me too.
I personally don’t think that teenagers have really changed very much over the past several hundred years either, which means that they were probably adding their own special attitudes and remarks to the very first Thanksgiving celebration way back in 1621. Can’t you just picture this delightful scene taking place?
Mother, in her cheeriest voice, says, "Constance, I have wonderful news for thee!”
There is no response from Constance, she merely looks up from her needlework and gives her mother a withering look that says, "This had better be good”.
Mother, undaunted, continues, "We’re having a huge Thanksgiving celebration! Thy father has invited the Wompanoag Indians to come, too!”
"Big deal”, Constance shrugs. "Like I really want to eat lunch with a bunch of total strangers. Besides,” she says, "everybody's seen the only dress I have, and I am NOT setting one foot outside this cabin until I have something new to wear."
When brother, Giles, comes home, he too is filled with joy at the prospect of celebrating Thanksgiving. "Well this reeks”, he says. "What are we supposed to be thankful about? Being dragged away from all our friends in old Plymouth? Spending two lousy months on that stupid Mayflower? Getting to this stinkin’ New World where there’s totally nothing to do? Partying with a bunch of dorky old people?” He fixes her with a steely glare, "Why don’t you just shoot us?”
Resisting the urge to do so, Mother simply smiles through her clenched teeth and replies, "It will be fun. Thou shalt see!”
First Constance criticizes everything on the menu. "Goose pudding? Stewed pumpkin? Stuffed eel? Gag me!” Then she refuses to help with the baking, "None of the other girls have to help their moms. Can’t I just go over to Humility’s house? Her mom lets us paint our nails with cranberry stain.”
Giles isn’t any better. Rather than hunt for wild turkey and deer, he spends all his time hanging out at the Indian teepee playing the tom-toms. And his father is becoming increasingly nervous about Giles’ infatuation with Squanto’s mohawk haircut.
Finally the big day arrives. Everyone turns out in their finest attire. Everyone, that is, except Giles. His shirttail is out, he wears his Pilgrim hat with the buckle in the back, his breeches are saggin’, and his white socks are scrunched down around his ankles.
Mother has to practically drag her kids outside to introduce them to the Indian guests. "Constance, Giles, this is Chief Massasoit.”
Giles replies, "Hey, cool beads!”
Constance asks, "Does that red paint come in some other shades, too?”
When it’s time for dinner, Mother watches in horror as Giles butts to the front of the buffet line, fills his plate, and starts to eat. A wild hyena uses better manners when it devours a freshly killed gazelle. Constance, on the other hand, surveys the selection and says in a loud voice, "Corn pasties, corn cakes, corn pudding. Like I haven’t had CORN out the wazoo every day for a year!” When she reaches the dishes that the Wompanoag women have brought, she turns up her cute little nose and says, "Eewww, grossss!”
After the meal, both teenagers disappear conveniently, before the dishes are done. Later that evening, Mother finds Giles lurking behind the cabin smoking peace pipes with a couple of surly Wompanoags.
"Where is thy sister?” she asks.
"How should I know?”
Mother finally locates her precious daughter, making out with an Indian boy down by the creek. "Constance, go to thy room!” she demands. Constance storms toward the cabin, hissing hatefully, "Thanks a lot, Mom. Little Barking Squirrel was just about to give me his Wampum beads. You, like, totally ruined everything!”
That night in bed, Father says to Mother, "This was truly a fine day. We should celebrate Thanksgiving every year!”
Mother massages her throbbing temples and mutters under her breath, "In your dreams, Pilgrim!”