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  • Paula Wesselmann

My Thanksgiving Quilt

Thanksgiving to me is like a beloved quilt. Each hand-stitched square holds a memory filled with images and feelings that only I know the true meaning of. The image is from my past and those who observe it will interpret it through their own thoughts and feelings. The gift is in the many interpretations and in the respect given to each thought expressed.


As I sit outside wrapped in a Scottish tartan plaid blanket, purchased during my days with Pan Am as a stewardess, I enjoy with my grandson, James, a sunny but chilly early November day. Together, we watch the male turkeys fan their tail feathers and proudly raise their body feathers while strutting around. Mating season is over, so I tell James that they are showing their male dominance since there are no predators to fight off. While I hold my grandson back from destroying their parade, I tell him that four hundred and one years ago, was the first Thanksgiving. As I tickle his tummy, he is surprised to learn that turkey was not on the menu for the Pilgrim's first Thanksgiving dinner. While he snuggles beneath my blanket with me, I share some of the struggles the Pilgrims had and the fears they must have faced. I explain to James what a Pilgrim was like in the year 1621 and that they had a strong faith in God, and it was that faith that gave them the courage, patience, and endurance to overcome their daily challenges.


On the table next to me was a book of poems that I kept from my father’s collection after he passed away. I opened it to Felicia Dorothea Hemans’ – ‘The Landing of the Pilgrims’ and read it to James.

The breaking waves dashed high, On a stern and rock-bound coast, And the woods against a stormy sky Their giant branches tossed;

And the heavy night hung dark The hills and waters o’er, When a band of exiles moored their bark On the wild New England shore;

Not as the conqueror comes, They, the true hearted came; Not with the roll of the stirring drums, And the trumpet that sings of fame;

Not as the flying come, In silence and in fear; – They shook the depths of the desert gloom With their hymns of lofty cheer…

Happy Thanksgiving. May the changes that come with the fall season be positive and enlightening as you shed off the old to welcome in the new.


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