Ever since my Japan trip my brain has been in a funk. Reading and writing seem like a burden, and I was stumped on what to write about this week for the blog. I blame this slump on jet lag and the month of September. Experts say that for every time-zone crossed, it takes the body a day to recover from travel; Christina and I crossed 14 time zones which may explain why I am not motivated to read my current book – a 1000 pager on the history of Christianity. Jet lag is sneaky because you can get back to a normal sleep schedule in a couple of days, but feeling “functional” is a far cry from feeling “optimal.” My jet lag is worsened by the fact that it is September. I never liked September because it is the little brother of New Years; it is that transition time of the year when the leaves change, school starts, and people make arbitrary goals. Unlike New Years, Labor Day goals have zero chance because of the upcoming holiday season…
–Labor Day “I’m going to lose some pounds before Halloween.”
–1st of October “I love the fall decorations…how can I enjoy this season without candy and cinnamon donuts?”
–Halloween “I feel gross…I’m going to try really hard up until Thanksgiving.”
–One week later “I didn’t know my work was going to have an early Thanksgiving feast…I’ll just do portion control.”
–Thanksgiving “I feel like a Beluga Whale…this is already my third Thanksgiving…screw it!…I’m using the big plate at the dessert table.”
–Christmas“Honey I’m having heart palpitations after that third glass of eggnog…I am starting that diet for real after New Years.”
So hence, I feel the September blues quite a bit; I have one foot in summer and one foot in fall with a jet-lagged brain that keeps nagging at me like a wife who finds pee on the toilet seat. So what am I to do? What motivation can I offer to prevent us from playing “Wake Me Up When September Ends” on repeat? The best way to get out of a funk is to be both realistic and tangible. For example, I am going to start the reading and research for my next book in the coming weeks. I know that this will be difficult with the many social engagements of the season, so my timeline is significantly extended. This is applicable for any goal you make right now – whatever you have in mind, lower your expectations by 50 percent. If you want to lose 10 pounds, go for 5 pounds. If you want to save 500 dollars go for 250 dollars. If you want to read 3,000 pages on Plato …. just go stick your head under a frozen-yogurt machine.
The other half of September success is to make your goal tangible. I have all the books I need to read stacked on my countertop so that I am reminded each day of my progress. The holidays make it easy to forget everyday routines so having a tangible reminder is paramount. Mark a calendar or have something on your desk that makes you think of your successes- just make it visible. After writing just these two paragraphs, I feel less foggy and more motivated to get back into my reading. Make a realistic goal this season and try your best; even if you improve by only 50%, it is still better than backsliding to those egg-nog induced palpitations.
This week is my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving. On Thursday I will be smoking my turkey for 5 hours and roasting some dark meat to add extra variety. We will be serving all the best sides: green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, apple pie, and pumpkin pie. I really enjoy talking about Thanksgiving with other people and hearing about their favorite dishes; macaroni and cheese seems like a popular one along with yams topped with marshmallows. I always wondered where all these traditions came from? To better understand my favorite holiday, I am reading Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick which is all about the Pilgrims and their first 50 years in the New World. The Pilgrims were the type of people that today you may describe as “cultish.” They believed that their form of worship was the best and they wanted to be completely isolated from the world to practice their extreme form of Christianity. They were so deadset on escaping the Church of England that they risked their lives to travel to a land where death and despair were everyday occurrences. Could you imagine a pastor today saying that he knew the true meaning of the Bible and that everyone should follow him to Antarctica to build a Godly community? It sounds insane but to an extent that is what the Pilgrims did back in 1620.
God had a plan for those crazy Pilgrims because they defied the odds and were able to not only make it safely across the Atlantic but were also able to find a relatively safe place to live – Plymouth. The first winter, half of them died and all looked lost until they met Squanto. Squanto was previously a slave and spent time in Europe before coming back to his homeland. The Pilgrims were desperate for help with planting crops and they needed to make alliances with the local Native Americans to survive. Squanto secured both these things, and that following fall, the first Thanksgiving took place. The first Thanksgiving wasn’t called “Thanksgiving” and it wasn’t connected to any religious celebration. The Pilgrims didn’t believe in religious holidays because the Bible didn’t mention any such events – in their minds the adulterated Catholic and Anglican Church were responsible for them. No, this first celebration was a secular event that mimicked the annual harvest celebration common in England during the medieval age. The Native Americans didn’t split a big table with the Pilgrims and feast on our modern day dishes. The celebration was so large, with Native Americans far outnumbering Pilgrims, that there were several fires scattered outside that hosted small groups. Each fire was used to cook a menagerie of choice meats: wild turkey, eagle, bass, venison, shellfish, and water fowl to name a few. The day was meant to celebrate the alliance and friendship formed between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe.
The rest of history didn’t go so well for the Native Americans but the message of the First Thanksgiving is still vital today. America was founded on friendship and unity between all different types of people. We’re at our best when we let go of our divisions and selfishness so that we can be generous with our unique blessings. Enjoy your Thanksgiving and remember these loving attributes when your uncle starts ranting about Donald Trump.
Here are some really fun facts about Thanksgiving 🙂
Scanto’s name, means the “Devil” or the “Dark Spirit”
There were no utensils at the first Thanksgiving – everyone used their fingers and hunting knives
The beverage of choice during the feast was homemade beer
The Pilgrims believed the apocalypse was near and their settlement would usher in the “end of times”
The Pilgrims didn’t believe in “Hymns” – instead they sang verses directly out of the Bible
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is spared the awful commercialization of Christmas and the need to buy stupid hallmark cards which for some reason is a norm for most celebrations. Thanksgiving is a holiday in its purest form-being grateful, socializing, and eating a crap ton of food. This year I was curious about the true history of Thanksgiving so I did a quick search of adult-historical books on the subject. To my surprise I didn’t find any and this is kinda of scary. Doesn’t this glorious holiday deserve a book written in the intricate detail of John Adams by David McCullough? What really was going on with the pilgrims? I want some library of congress research into these topics. Maybe my search was too surface level and there exists a book of this magnitude. Please tell me if there is. Ironically I was just thinking yesterday that I could never think of a topic in history to write about. This Thanksgiving, let us all think of where we have come from, where we will be going, and where we will fit that extra slice of pie. For now, lets maintain the historically accurate picture of pilgrims wearing buckles on their hats, “Indians” wearing no shirts in November, and a feast using one of the rarest spices at the time-nutmeg. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.