Oct 02 2010

At Plimoth Plantation, the living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts,
the Pilgrims come to talk with you during your Thanksgiving feast.

When I lived in upstate New York, I would often go to Boston, Massachusetts and when I did, I would stay in Plymouth to enjoy the historical area. I was intrigued by the story of the Pilgrims landing in 1620, and, so we were taught, being the first Europeans to land in North America. Years later, after reading many books and after learning that Squanto, the Native American who helped the Pilgrims through the first winter, greeted them in English after they landed, I have reassessed what I was taught in school. In my schooling career, very few books mentioned that before the Pilgrims arrived, Squanto and many other Wampanoag tribes people has been captured and taken back to England. But that’s another story and a good one. You can find it and more facts about that first Plymouth winter in Nathaniel Philbrick’s wonderfully educational book, Mayflower, as seen at the bottom of this post.

All plants and animals in the 1627 Village are native
to the times, as are the garden preparations.

But, when I went to Boston and stayed in Plymouth, I would always make a point to visit Plimoth Plantation, the historical area that is spelled in the old style of the original Plimoth colony. And, when I visited Plimoth Plantation, I was always charmed by the idea that every Thanksgiving, the museum hosts a banquet, a 17th century Thanksgiving feast, where tickets may be purchased to “dine with the Pilgrims.” I decided that someday, when I had a family, we would one day go, sitting in rare style on Thanksgiving Day, eating our pumpkin pie just down the street when where it all happened long ago.

Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum,
providing historical immersion in another time.

Eventually I did take my family to Plymouth and Plimoth Plantation, but it was after a few false starts. The programs are very popular around Thanksgiving. I had heard reservations have to be made early, but I thought the beginning of October would be plenty of time. I didn’t know they begin taking reservations in June, (!) so that some of the most popular seatings for dinner are sold out long before fall even begins. So, later, we planned ahead and the next year actually did eat with the Pilgrims on Thanksgiving Day. A triumph years in the making.

A mast, rigging and the crow’s nest of the Mayflower II
docked in downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts.

When you go to the Plimoth Plantation website, found here, to look at the educational events, you will find the Thanksgiving dinner information here. You will notice there are many dates and times from which to choose. The Thanksgiving dinners start in October to allow many more visitors than could be accommodated in November alone. The web site will also show you there are several living history areas: the Wampanoag Native American home site, the 1627 English Village, The Mayflower II, the Nye Barn, in addition to a tempting Gift Shop and other educational and social event facilities.

Wampanoag descendants tend a cooking fire
to instruct visitors on their cultural customs.

Being a bargain shopper as I know you are, I hope you have noticed on the Plimoth Plantation web site that educational and social events are less expensive for Members of the museum; why you even get a discount in the Gift Shop! I would strongly encourage everyone who loves history to become members of all museums that speak to your love of heritage. With the economic climate and families traveling less, donations toward non-profit groups like museums are declining.

Visitors wander freely through the Village
while talking to Pilgrim interpreters.

Unfortunately, government grants and funding have also lessened leaving museum directors and curators wringing their hands as to how to maintain collections to safeguard the pubic trust. By supporting museums, by becoming a member and actively participating in staged events, museum doors stay open and the collections can be maintained for future generations. In some small museums, the need is especially critical, so please give to the museum/s of your choice.  Make sure the museum where you want to take your kids or grand kids someday will be open when you bring a carload of fun seekers to their door.

To preview a copy, hover over this link:

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

The following is a spirited Amazon review:

“After a recent trip to Plymouth with the family (also heartily recommended), most of the tour guides & workers suggested this as a very good first read about the history of the Plymouth Colony. They were absolutely right (thanks guys). This is a very well written book that covers the main history of the Plymouth Colony from the establishment of the first successful colony through King Philip’s War. Nathaniel Philbrick’s main point is how the relationships with the natives changed from one of mutual dependence to outright open warfare between competing cultures. While telling the big story, he tells a lot of small stories along the way that make this a wonderful book. The details didn’t interfere with the flow of the larger story.
The writing is excellent. The history is fascinating. It’s a must read for anyone interested in the Pilgrims, King Philip’s War, early American History or Massachusetts history.”

To enjoy a video of Plimoth Plantation, click play:

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