Some of you from distant lands such as Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the country of South America may not be familiar with this uniquely American holiday (granted, Canadians celebrate it as well, but we in the United States tend to ignore our northern neighbors except when it comes to the Stanley Cup standings) so here is a brief history of its origins:
Back in 1620, a group of Puritans (also known as pilgrims) had grown weary of the constant persecution and ridicule they were forced to endure in Europe. This was understandable, since they tended to dress funny.
Hoping to find a place where they would be free to practice their faith more openly and persecute someone else for a change, like witches, a group of them set sail on the Mayflower. The Mayflower was the largest moving van of its day, and considered a technological marvel for its ability to keep the poor Pilgrims from coming in contact with the rich ones. Their destination was the distant land of North America, which had recently been discovered by Christopher Columbus (Well, actually, it had been discovered by a guy named Leif Ericson, but he was Norwegian, and therefore didn't really count). Columbus had actually been looking for a new trade route to China, misread his GPS readings, and became hopelessly lost. Being a man, he refused to stop for directions. In recognition of his blithering incompetence, Columbus was given a Federal holiday.
But I digress.
Before the travelers could make it to the safety of Ellis Island, their moving van struck an iceberg and sank. This unexpected turn of events rudely interrupted the torrid but mostly chaste (at least until they ended up in the backseat of a Model T) shipboard romance of Jack Dawson and Pochohantas. Faced with a scarcity of lifeboats, many of the men nobly dressed up as women and children to procure a seat to safety.
The survivors eventually came ashore at Plymouth Rock, called such because a car dealership in Boston had purchased the naming rights. There they were befriended by native Americans, also known as Indians since they spoke with funny accents and were willing to work as computer programmers for incredibly low wages. Without their help, the pilgrims would never have gotten a sensible inventory control program up and running, and would have surely starved to death during the coming winter.
The following year yielded healthy crops and a bountiful harvest. That fall, the pilgrims invited their new Indian friends (who weren't actually from India) to share a feast of giving thanks to the good lord. And to further show their gratitude, the settlers gave the natives blankets, muskets, smallpox, and syphilis.
In return, the Indians introduced the newcomers to corn, tobacco, lung cancer, and scalping, especially when it comes to Springsteen tickets. They also built gambling casinos to take their money. Meanwhile, the Indians also fiercely debated whether the recent immigrants were destroying American culture.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of the first American Thanksgiving.