The First Thanksgiving, occurred somewhere between September and November in 1621, when the Pilgrims decided to be gracious and invite 90 of their Wampanoag Indian neighbors for a little sit down. After all, the Indians basically saved many of the Pilgrims from starvation after teaching them how to farm and survive in this new, strange land, so the least the Pilgrims could do is have them over for a harvest festival. That First Thanksgiving must have been good since it lasted three days. Can you even imagine? Three days of a house crammed with family, in-laws, snotty, germy children, blaring football games, turkey, parades, chaos and still more turkey? Ummmm, no thank you, I can AWEnestly see why that tradition faded away.
Don't get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving, all the yummy food, time with family, turkey tryptophan napping, oh, and did I mention the food, specifically my mother's stuffing? Yes, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, steeped in century old traditions, but everything in moderation people. Do you think Squanto and Miles Standish eventually tired of trying to entertain and accomodate all the Indians and the Pilgrims (whom by the way did not refer to themselves as Pilgrims, and rumor has it, they did not have big silver buckles on their shoes...thank goodness, what a hideous shoe that was)? It must have been exhausting making sure there were enough leftovers for the next day, enough homes and wetus to sleep in, and enough games to entertain everyone. Add to that the nervousness and unease of putting two groups together with such huge language and cultural barriers, which could have easily lead to offended guests and a little Thanksgiving Day bloodshed. Perhaps this three day celebration is where the term, "the natives are getting restless" originated. A three day harvest festival to show thanks that could have been equally appreciative in 24 hours or less.
Holidays for many kids with an ASD are difficult, and since Thanksgiving tends to be filled with more....more food, more people, more noise, more smells and more chaos, it sometimes can be the toughest. There are many changes in routine, changes in location, changes in people and changes in food. With these kids' heightened sensory systems and need for sameness, a 24 hour Thanksgiving celebration is long enough, three days would have sent these kiddos sailing back to England on The Mayflower. With so many changes, kids with an ASD may not be on their best behavior at Thanksgiving and of course it just happens to be the one day out of the year that well intended relatives get to see your bundle of joy and share with you all of their suggestions, advice, and tricks on how to nip your child's "behavior" in the bud. As a parent, you are often on edge....waiting for the blow up, the melt down or some comment that will send you spiraling into a turkey hazed frenzy. It's probably just how edgy the Indians felt when the Pilgrims invited them to their first feast...anxiously watching and waiting.