(Ed. Note: It’s very easy, at this hectic time of year, to get caught up in our own lives and forget the things which really matter. So if I may share a family tradition of my own today, I’d like to suggest you take the time at your family’s table this holiday, share the following story of The First Thanksgiving and make it a family tradition in your own home. -Cheers, CMT)
In the year 1621, a group of 101 passengers fleeing the religious persecution of the Church England boarded a ship called the Mayflower and set sail to find their own new land in which to settle and reside. The wooden ship sailed, scholars believe, for sixty-six days before landing on the coast of a new and “undiscovered” country, which the Englishmen and women — who called themselves “pilgrims” — would decide to call home.
As the seasons passed and the air grew colder and brisker signaling autumn was on the way, these pilgrims began to secure the supplies they would need to survive to harsh winter to come. They worked hard to grow corn on the vast land and pull fish from the ocean; they chopped wood they would need for fires and cured meat to be used when food sources would soon become scarce.
One crisp autumn day the pilgrims were delighting themselves in their chores when a group of visitors arrived at their settlement. These visitors were the Kentucky Wildcats, led by head coach John Calipari and his coaching staff, and they could see the pilgrims were unprepared for what was to come. “Let us help you,” said John Calipari, and the pilgrims were grateful for the assistance.
The Kentucky Wildcats then took the pilgrims to an open field near the settlement and began to throw a rounded gourd back and forth to one another. “Come, try to take this from us,” Alex Poythress said, and a pilgrim man ran to him and tried to take his gourd from him. But Alex Poythress was too fast, and quickly threw the gourd to Aaron Harrison, who tossed the gourd into a hole in a tree, even though there was a very tall pilgrim right in front of him.
The settlers did their best to contain the Kentucky Wildcats but a dual-platoon system with extra substitutes proved too much for them to handle. The pilgrims tried hard but, being new to this country, had no recourse for a solid NBA-style pick-and-roll and strong shooting from the perimeter. Height was also a major problem, as evidenced by the following journal entry by a settler named Edward Fuller:
These giants both surprised us and frightened us with their swift movements.
My beloved wife Mary was thrilled although fearful when Karl-Anthony Towns swatted a
butternut squash directly into my face, causing me and
my family sadness and great humility.
The pilgrims would lose The First Thanksgiving 87-19, held to only 7 points in the second half, and ultimately feel grateful that the competition would strengthen them in the days to come. The initial shock on the faces of the children would turn to delight as everyone watching in attendance scored a free taco and the dance team displayed exquisite movements to the day’s hottest rap hits.
“We must repay you for what you have shown and taught us here today,” the pilgrims told John Calipari. “Someday we will initiate a three-tiered system of competition with scholarships, though not too many scholarships, which will culminate in a tournament rewarding the strongest with an opportunity to be the greatest in all the land.” And John Calipari thought that sounded like a great idea, and then the Kentucky Wildcats were like “Also, here’s some food for you guys” and gave them some corn and roasted meat and sweet fruits for the children. Then a group of energetic young people with jump ropes arrived to put on a show of entertainment as everyone ate their food and Dorothy Bradford, wife of William Bradford of Cambridgeshire, got to be the “Y.” A good time was had by all and Seth Davis said he didn’t know if any Thanksgiving would be better than the First Thanksgiving that year, to which Clark Kellogg was all “you’re right about that” and he doesn’t even like the Kentucky Wildcats.
Afterward, John Calipari would tell everyone that the pilgrims deserved credit for getting out there and playing hard and that he was really impressed with their level of play, even though he probably was just saying it to be nice. The post-First-Thanksgiving epistle-writing show had very high ratings and the pilgrims would go to sleep that night with their hats unbuckled and their bellies full of kindness and food. As the abbreviated, choked howls of the Kentucky Wildcats dunking on wolves peppered the crisp night wind outside, the safe pilgrims vowed to recall this day every autumn and appreciate the blessings bestowed upon them. And that’s what we, today, call Thanksgiving.