Ann Bednarski: A memory that lives forever close to my heart
November 24, 2012
Is that how you describe your day on this traditional day of giving thanks? To me it was a day to plan and pray for a brighter future. I made the decision to not watch any television. That decision was made on Tuesday when in the span of 10 minutes I found myself feeling sad about the things happening around the world that interfere with a day to appreciate all the things life gives to us. There is a threat of war, a strike designed specifically to greatly inconvenience travelers, and a request for Walmart workers to not come to work on Black Friday. I should not have watched the news. It seems to me great efforts are underway to increasingly make living as difficult as possible.
“What is gained?” I heard those three words the host simply asked on television today. Why? Why do this to inflict stress and inconvenience? Seriously, what is gained? Is power now the consummate bully? It seems very mean to choose Thanksgiving weekend to place a damper on the celebration.
My suggestion, my wish for everyone this Thanksgiving weekend is to enjoy something and someone you usually do not find time to do. I hope you have family time to talk about dreams and plans and can do it looking directly at those people important in your life, looking into their eyes to capture their dreams joined with yours and how you collectively can achieve them. Thank God we are a nation of innovators, dreamers and doers. America is the only country that celebrates nationally a day of thanks. Do you ever wonder what the Pilgrims discussed at their Thanksgiving feast, when the tradition was established in 1620?
Many years ago my fifth-graders and I presented a simple play for our celebration of Thanksgiving at school. The characters in this effort were the things that make up the traditional dinner. Everyone in the class decided which part of this feast they would become. It was the most fun to do; a production I “relish” and will never forget because my students and I learned so much from this experience.
I remember presenting the idea of each person playing some food on the table at Thanksgiving to all 38 students in my class; they instantly liked the idea. It was simply not so simple to do, but the enthusiasm and effort made that little play unforgettable.
Before we started writing all the things served at a Thanksgiving dinner, one girl said she would like to be string beans because her grandfather always called her “Little String Bean.” Another student with bright red hair announced he would be carrots. It caught on from there; most everyone picked what foodstuff they would portray. There were two very shy boys in the class. One said he would be leftovers because he is not important. I had to tell him we were not doing leftovers and suggested he should be “gravy.” He liked that a lot.
The class selected the turkey, the biggest item on the dinner table. The turkey was chosen for his presence and ability to know that all the other things on the menu complemented the reason he was the name of the dinner. Think about it, you don’t have a dressing dinner, you have a turkey dinner.
When each of the “menu” players was determined, everyone had to learn about what they were and how they were prepared. I was thrilled with how engrossed in this production the class as a whole commingled information about their part in the play. “Gravy,” I am happy to report, gained self-esteem and confidence that stayed with him all year. His parents were very happy.
On the day of the assembly at school to enjoy each classroom’s contribution, it was wonderful to see so many of my students’ parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles in the audience. I was pleased because I realized this “play” on food was very important in each of their homes.
We made cardboard pilgrims and laid out a white sheet on the stage. Each person had a line, a poem or an interesting fact about their morsel in the play. First to enter was a shrimp, the shortest person in the class; she was the appetizer. Then came what was known in our class as The Waldorf: apple, raisin and grape. Some came with hints about what they were; there were no costumes. Some had little hats with drawings or in the color of their specific food.
The “turkey” entered last and made his entrance strutting.
Everyone had arranged themselves on the “table.” The turkey was perched in the middle of it. After everyone was on stage, the audience was invited to partake with a message from the feast, “Enjoy us!”
• Ann Bednarski of Carson City is a career educator and journalist.