November 22nd, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2007 by Jill Hall

I had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I went to work. I love going to Plimoth Plantation on Thanksgiving, and today was a beautiful day, unseasonably warm, with a lovely late autumn sunshine reflecting the holiday atmosphere.

After checking in at the 1627 English Village’s morning meeting, my Thanksgiving tradition is to head over to the Visitors’ Center where the hosts, hostesses and singers for the Victorian Thanksgiving Dinners are getting dressed, warming up voices and instruments, and having coffee and muffins.

I always help my friend and colleague, Die, into her gorgeous 19th century clothes. For these dinners she plays Mrs. Charlotte Pinkham Hoxie, the wife of whaling Captain Abraham Hoxie – that’s her husband – in both centuries – at right in the background.

Why Victorian Thanksgiving? In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared the first national Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Before that, Thanksgiving was a very local holiday, celebrated in some places and not in others. Even where it was celebrated the actual day was declared by the minister or local government.

What we now consider the traditional Thanksgiving menu dates back to the 1800s, too – turkey, root vegetables, pie. I love pie. But I digress.

On Thanksgiving there are three seatings for the Victorian Thanksgiving Dinners – I’m not sure how many people at a seating, but well over 100 anyway. These dinners sell out months in advance.

Every year I help Die into her corset and gown, then lace the black ribbon through the backs of the black velvet-covered buttons. Fix the black velvet belt, hide the ties; fix the little black hat with the veil. I love this outfit – it’s modeled after one in a 19th century photo, and Die looks wonderful in it.

Then I wander around the sites, helping folks find their way from one place to another, or where the nearest rest rooms are, or just being friendly. Last year it rained, rained, rained. Many people visited the museum, but it wasn’t as pleasant to be walking around, that’s for sure.

This is how it looked this year.

And while I was wandering, I found this little girl minding a goat. Sweet goat, it ate every fallen maple leaf a child offered, and willingly accepted pats from everyone. Sweet girl, too.

The staff enjoys a potluck dinner behind the scenes, with the staples provided by the museum and all the sides and desserts brought from many different traditions. I love that part, too, getting to try everyone’s favorite dish. And, of course, pie.

People often say to me, “Oh, too bad you have to work on Thanksgiving.”

Not so much. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job.
I hope you had a fantastic day, too.

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