A Little Stroll Down Awkward Memory Lane
Sunday Morning Pancake Breakfast: A Matter of Perspective

On Pilgrims

The house my mom grew up in in Massachusetts was about 20 minutes from Plymouth Rock, and in the mid-1980s my family moved back to her hometown for a bit when my dad was transferred to work on a Boston-based project.  Therefore, I lived in Massachusetts for part of preschool and kindergarten, which has since proved to have a disproportionately significant effect on my personal level of respect for Pilgrims.  See, Massachusetts is a very Pilgrim-loving state, and preschool and kindergarten are very crucial years in the formation of a person's knowledge of holidays.  Put them together, and you get the impression that Pilgrims are extremely important.

Signs of Pilgrim importance were everywhere in Massachusetts.  The signs on the Mass Pike had pilgrim hats stenciled on them, for God's sake!  The town I lived in was also home to the Miles Standish Monument, and to this day I am not sure if he is a legitimate famous person or not, because his name was so ubiquitous in my youth.  Does every five-year old know about Miles Standish?  Was he really that big of a deal?  Or was his importance inflated by my very pro-Standish preschool teachers?  Perhaps you can tell me, because I lived less than a mile from a statue of him, so I think my opinion of him might be a little subjective.

Anyway, in my two years as an MA resident, I was on the receiving end of a lot of Pilgrim hype.  I've visited Plymouth Rock more times than I can count, and I went to Plimouth Plantation (note ye fancie olde spelling) every time the library was giving discounted passes.  I've toured the Mayflower II and owned my fair share of pilgrim memorabilia.  And it's not that I'm saying these weren't enjoyable experiences--they were.  Plymouth is a lovely place.  All I'm saying is that it took me a really, really, abnormally long time to realize something that I think most kids realize by age 10:

The Pilgrims were lame, no-fun dorks.

Because Pilgrims are such an important part of Massachusetts history, it often gets overlooked that they were boring prudes.  Yet, there is a reason why there are no bars or nightclubs with a Puritan theme.  Plymouth Colony was a pretty bleak place--as is anywhere where the List of Ways to Die a Young, Horrible Death (scurvy, cholera, dysentery, scabies, rabies, starvation, childbirth, exposure, etc.), is about ten times longer than the List of Fun Things to Do (butter churning and buckle polishing).

Boring or not, I am more than happy to celebrate the Pilgrims each year by taking the day off work and eating a cubic meter of mashed potatoes.  That seems like a fair deal to me.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


For such a stodgy group that wasn't so big on the youth partying, Pilgrims were actually quite the thrill group.

Records indicate that the average Puritan marriage in colonial Massachusetts had its first child in 7 months. "First baby comes whenever, all else take nine months."

The comments to this entry are closed.