It was Thanksgiving week at Rankin Elementary School, and there was great excitement among the second-graders. Our teacher had been telling us for weeks that we would put on a Thanksgiving pageant, and preparations were underway.
Construction paper, crayons, and blunt scissors with rounded edges were put on every table. Pots of paste and Elmer’s glue left a distinct tang in the air. Pilgrims hats and bonnets and Indian headdresses needed to be made for the boys and girls. We worked hard to cut out yellow buckles for the hats and colored feathers for the Indians. It was tough to make a hat that fit and didn’t rip when you tried it on.
Most of the boys wanted to be Indians. The members of our tribe had brought in empty Quaker Oats containers, which made perfect tom-toms when decorated with paper and crayons and even sounded like a drum when you tapped the top with your hand.
Our worried teacher had written the script and done the staging. A few students had a line or two, but most of us would just don our Pilgrim or Indian garb and stand there while Squanto and the Pilgrim fathers gave stiff speeches about friendship and Plymouth Rock and being thankful for the harvest. Eventually one of the girls wearing a white Pilgrim bonnet would bring in a turkey made of Play-Doh and the show would end. When the big day came, the show went off without a hitch.
Of course, there was no pretense of historical accuracy or political correctness. We didn’t know whether Squanto wore feathers and carried a tom-tom, or what the Pilgrim fathers said on that first Thanksgiving, or even whether they ate a turkey for their meal. But it was fun to make things with my classmates after long weeks of spelling and arithmetic, we got to work together as a class to put on our little pageant, and we learned something about Thanksgiving, and each other, and the tensile strength of construction paper and the edible properties of paste in the process.
Do they put on Thanksgiving pageants in schools anymore?