Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pilgrims, Wampanoag, and hand turkeys

   Who would have thought when those Pilgrims and Wampanoag gave thanks in the autumn of 1621 they were starting the dysfunctional holiday to end all?

   Keep your eyes on people in Pilgrim attire. Only 57 years after attending that first Thanksgiving, the Wampanoag chief’s grandson was sold into slavery.

   While for those descendents of Pilgrims, well this is also the 45th anniversary of another Thanksgiving Day in Massachusetts, immortalized by Arlo Guthrie, “You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant .

   Bring on the hand turkeys! Kudos to Rethink Autism for their “The First Thanksgiving” project, where children with autism will have a chance to see their own "hand turkey" art featured in an animated cartoon, on the Rethink Autism home page as well as on Facebook, iTunes, and YouTube. Children with Autism Create Thanksgiving Cartoon

   I know caregiving and it can be isolating. This use of social media to create a collective story sounds intriguing. And challenged or not, the eyes of children see the most extraordinary views.

   Oh! Samoset, what were you thinking, when you first walked into Plymouth in Spring, 1621 and greeted the Pilgrims in broken English? Imagine if you had greeted them with this year’s travel salutation, “don’t go touchin’ my junk”? Then again, you were wearing a loin cloth, rather visionary for travel attire.

   Twenty-one Thanksgiving mornings ago Patti who had gone to bed able-bodied, awoke unable to walk, see, barely talk and finished that Thanksgiving Day hospitalized with her first Multiple Sclerosis exacerbation.  … While holding our then 18 month old daughter in my arms, I began the journey of caregiving.

   On Thansgiving Eve 2010, Patti will awake in a care facility requiring the attended care of staff for the activities of daily living and a lift to get out of bed. ... While elsewhere a turkey will awake in the Willard Hotel, be chauffeured to the White House to be pardoned by the President, driven to a new home at Mt. Vernon in a horse-drawn carriage and be greeted with a trumpet fanfare?

… What’s in your Thanksgiving? J

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 


  1. 21 years ago--does it seem a long time ago or "just like yesterday?" Loved this post. Thanksgiving is all food and fun as children, but you grow up and learn some ugly truths--then we mature and have to make peace with yesterdays...much like living with MS, I suppose.

  2. Thanksgiving has got to be bittersweet for you, Patrick. It is so amazingly sad that it "hit" Patti like that overnight. What a "wild ride" it has been with care giving and raising your daughter. I do hope you and Patti and Megan have a nice Thanksgiving however it is celebrated.


  3. I always think of you and Patti at this time of year. I'm in Tennessee with my cousins again this year. I hope this year is calmer than 21 years ago!

    Love ya,
    Jackie aka BamaWmn


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