Explaining Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dessert option

When I was in college, I studied abroad for a year in Madrid, Spain. The father of my host family was a teacher in a grade school. In the late fall, he asked me to come to work with him and give a presentation to his students on the American holiday of Thanksgiving.

At first this sounded easy, but as I prepared my notes it became apparent that my six years of Spanish were not up to the task. I didn’t know how to translate pilgrim, Native American, turkey, or pumpkin pie. I found these in my dictionary, but inexplicably, cranberry, stuffing, cornucopia, and Jell-o salad were all missing. Confidence low, I made caramel apples as a back-up plan.

At first, the students gamely followed my directions on how to draw a turkey by outlining one hand with five colored crayons. I could tell they had some doubts about the existence of a four-winged multi-colored edible bird, but they didn’t argue too much. To them, pilgrims were religiously minded people who walked a long way in order to reach a church, so the story of the sailing boats going to a pagan continent didn’t quite mesh. They also refused to believe that Americans enjoy a dessert made out of squash. And try to describe Jell-o salad to a crowd of suspicious ten-year-olds who think all salads ought to contain some sort of green vegetable.

Worn out with explaining Thanksgiving, I presented them with the caramel apples. They immediately understood what the whole day was about.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

About Jane Knuth 9 Articles
Jane Knuth is the author of Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25¢ at a Time and Thrift Store Graces: Finding God’s Gifts in the Midst of the Mess. She has been volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the last 17 years. She is also a math tutor. Knuth and her husband, Dean, live in Portage, Michigan.
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