Thursday, November 24, 2011

An early holiday card

When I was a little girl, I learned from my teacher at the time the story of the pilgrims and the Mayflower in an account much more detailed than that we either learned or acted out in my previous preschool years.

Note: I am not sure, but this might have been the same teacher who gave the House Rules homework assignment.

Note #2: No, this was not the year we learned about smallpox blankets or wars or slavery or burning people at the stake or any of that.

What I do remember is that this was the year we learned that where the pilgrims landed was called Plymouth, Massachusetts, and that there was a big rock called Plymouth Rock. I'm pretty sure I imagined the ship sailing at top speed and crashing into this rock (but surprisingly not injuring anyone or causing alarm of any sort) and thought that the Mayflower was, as a result, a little too banged up to bring home to England, and that was why they couldn't just turn around and leave when they realized that East Coast winters suck and they were starving.

The story I learned was the standard Squanto-to-the-Rescue story. (Unfortunately not the version that involves beer.)

As a side note, the "acting out" of which I wrote above refers to a pageant performed for the parents in my preschool. I remember nothing of it except that I got assigned to be an Indian (which was appropriate, although it might have been based on which teacher I had and not because I had dark hair) and my friend Shannon, who was pale white with white-blonde hair and cornflower blue eyes, got to be a pilgrim, and I was really REALLY jealous. I guess four-year-olds weren't aware of the noble savage concept in 1988.

Anyway, the following day, which was Thanksgiving, we had dinner at my house with my grandparents (the French ones--and when I refer to these grandparents, I am actually referring to three people: my grandmere, my mom's stepfather Pierre aka Pipa, and my grandmere's mother, Suzanne aka Mima, fka Minou, who lives with them. Note the present tense. She is going to be 99 in a few weeks.)

This is turning into a longer post than I'd planned. Anyway, I call my great-grandmother Mima now, which is what everyone else in the family calls her - my mother, my mother's cousins, and my second cousins. When I was a little kid, I had trouble saying this, I guess, and I called her, "Minou." I was always surprised when I met French people who had cats named Minou. I would say, "That's funny! That's my great-grandmother's name." No one told me that Minou was a term of endearment for a cat. I made the switch to Mima in college. It was fortunately long before I learned that "minou" in French also has a dirty connotation. The first time I became acquainted with the term, "faire le minou," let's just say I was very distraught for my four-year-old self.

Anyway. So, in that lull between turkey gluttony and dessert, while the adults were either madly preparing dessert/cleaning dinner dishes/packing away leftovers in the kitchen or taking a nap, I was full of five-or-six-year-old energy. To keep out of everyone's way, I was channeling that energy into creativity. (I wasn't really a run-around-the-house-kid EVER, actually. I was pretty lazy sedentary).

Eager to show off my school lessons, I drew a picture of a giant shoe with a shattered toe and some lollipops with limbs and with buckles on their heads and a large gray blob and some other lollipops with rainbow-picket fences on their heads. My art skills then were as great as they are now. Over my pilgrims-landing-in-America + Mayflower-fender-bender masterpiece, I wished to provide some text. Since without that caption, no one would have any idea what the hell I had just drawn.

Pipa had dozed off in his chair at the dinner table. No one adults were around, except perhaps Mima, but she only speaks French. She would have been no help to me at this point. So I asked Pipa, the French immigrant, for help with my caption. I needed help spelling things, like "Plymouth."

And that was how I ended up handing my parents a Thanksgiving card that read, "Happy Thinksgiving from Planet Rock!"

I wonder what would have happened if I'd try to include, "Massachusetts."

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