all of the selves we Have ever been
This morning, I received an email from a furniture store.
The subject line promised deals for a cozy Thanksgiving.
A cozy Thanksgiving? Hasn’t that been outlawed?
Cozy is not an option this year. Close, intimate, snug are not words in our vocabulary this holiday season. Any subversive who tries to get cozy now and for the foreseeable future runs the risk of being outcast, fined, or terribly ill.
Thanksgiving 2020 is the year of the distant and remote holiday celebration. With social distancing of six feet in my small apartment, I can have two guests. Each gets a separate room and an open window. If someone doesn’t mind sitting in the bathroom, I can make that three, but they will have to keep the fan running and promise to step into the bathtub and pull the shower curtain if someone needs to wash her hands.
But these are minor inconveniences compared to the Pilgrims. By the time they stepped off the Mayflower 400 years ago, they were sick of cozy.
The Mayflower was no Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Lines. For three months, a crew of 30 along with 102 future colonists crammed themselves into the cargo hold of a wooden merchant sailing ship. The ship was overloaded and running two months behind schedule with 3,000 miles of the Atlantic to cross as winter storms approached. Conditions were damp, cramped, and unclean. Imagine what it was like when massive storms caused widespread seasickness in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! They made it with only two deaths and one birth along the way.
They arrived in the New World 200 miles off course and facing a harsh winter. They continued to live on the ship for another six months as parties surveyed the area for a place to settle. Two to three people died each day. Only half of the Mayflower’s passengers survived to celebrate that first Thanksgiving.
In their desperate circumstances, the Pilgrims had to ward off a mutiny by the economic migrants on board and negotiate a treaty with the local Native Americans. Through cooperation and an exchange of skills, a small group of only fifty-two Pilgrims survived. Their descendants now number in the millions and include Humphrey Bogart and President Bush. According to the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, as many as 35 million people worldwide descended from those Pilgrims.
As we celebrate this 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving, we may be feeling like those seasick, wave-tossed Pilgrims. We’re on our way to a new world. No one is sure of the way. The ship is damaged and rickety, the crew is weary. And it stinks! Sometimes the officers spend too much time below deck drinking the Kool-Aid. The passengers argue over the life-jackets: they are uncomfortable, a violation of personal freedom, and they make us look fat….We’re sick of this trip.
But longing for what we had reminds us of how much we’ve had. And a flawless adventure is no adventure at all.
I am cozying up to the idea of a new national holiday. When this journey is over and we have hit dry land, lets stand six feet together, side by side, celebrating the cooperation, exchange of skills, and hope that brought us to a new, post-pandemic world. While we will mourn the loss of many, our numbers diminished, let it be a time of rebirth. Whatever flaws we have had, may the future remember us for our determination, and our bravery.