We do not have any extended family nearby, and Thanksgiving is generally a makeshift affair. This year I was just not in the mood to prepare a big spread. My husband is allergic to turkey, the recognized star of most Thanksgiving feasts, and the rest of the traditional food doesn't do much to arouse my craving, although I wouldn't turn down a piece of pumpkin pie, or better yet, pumpkin cheesecake.
Than I realized, hey, we live in New England! This is the land of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was a long-standing, regional tradition in New England well before Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863. I actually have ancestors who were at that fabled "first" Thanksgiving in 1621, and who came aboard the Mayflower. So, we drove down to Plymouth and went to Plimoth Plantation, where you find both a Native American village and an English settlement, as you would have seen them in the 17th century.
A bark covered wetu
At the Wampanoag homesite, there were a few fires blazing, for cooking and demonstrations, and the smoke gave the whole village an ethereal quality to the dying sunlight. It was quite stunning.
A wetu and cornfield
After you finish exploring the Native American homesite, you walk up a path to the English settlement, where the pilgrims would have lived.
In those very early years of settlement, you would have seen huts and cottages very much like you might have found in England, with thatched roofs and other features they brought with them from their homeland. It wasn't until several years down the line, in the latter part of the 17th century, that colonists developed the distinctly American look to their homes, based on native materials and climate and the ingenuity it took to survive.
From the roofs to the sea.
A pilgrim woman walks around her garden
Some dancing among the colonist ladies.
And after our time at Plimoth Plantation (enjoyed so much that we purchased a year membership), we headed up the road to the Plymouth harbor to explore Mayflower II, a recreation of the original Mayflower.
Stepping aboard the Mayflower at sunset
And with that, I do believe a new Thanksgiving tradition was created. It was such a lovely day and so much more meaningful than our usual "let's sit down to a feast and then sleep and/or be lazy for hours" routine. Even with the Boston traffic, it was worth every moment!