REDNECK PERSPECTIVE: The First Thanksgiving

By on November 24, 2015

Struggling pilgrims are free at last.

151125RedneckJackson, WY  -I have an invite to go to Lill’s for Thanksgiving dinner! The last time I shared Thanksgiving with Lill she had bacon hors d’oeuvres, bacon wrapped turkey stuffed with bacon, mashed potatoes with bacon pieces and for desert, pecan pie with whipped bacon grease replacing Crisco in the crust. I had brought Little Clyde, my nephew, along. His parents were in Vegas taking advantage of a slow time for Sin City and special deals that included free buffets.

After dinner and during halftimes and commercial breaks in football games, I had taken the time to tell Little Clyde the story of the first Thanksgiving. For those unfamiliar or needing a primer on the Pilgrims and why we feast and give thanks every November, I have included the story below.

The pilgrims were East and West Coast hedge fund managers and trust funders who longed for the liberty to live like real cowboys, in massive log homes with heated driveways, wine rooms and servant’s quarters for their domestic staff. They wanted the liberty to buy western art without ridicule from snobby connoisseurs. They longed for the freedom of a new land and, as they already had a house in Martha’s Vineyard, Sedona and Vail, they searched for new frontiers, hopefully one that had no state income tax. And so they set sail into the unknown, leaving all they had behind in their Park Avenue townhomes. The first winter in Jackson was long, cold, and very hard. Massage therapist and sushi shops were still a rarity and there were only two golf courses! Danger lurked around every corner, not just from uncivilized natives, but from malnutrition, as in the early days opportunities for fine dining were rare; many Pilgrims had to engage the services of a cook merely to survive.

But the pilgrims did survive that first difficult year with help from local natives who supplied them with not only cooks but with nannies, maids, and caretakers, teaching them about their new home, and giving them the skills needed to endure in a strange land.

Finally the pilgrims, armed with nothing but a checkbook, a pen, a realtor, and an interior designer, carved a new civilization from the wilderness; a civilization defined by a rugged-rustic-western-luxury lifestyle. Four Star dining establishments and galleries specializing in western and wildlife art appeared and many of the pilgrims bravely spent as many as four weeks a year in the valley, flying in for the holidays and catered weddings.

The natives became civilized, learning the nuances of ski butlership and caretaking. Nonstop jet service was introduced, subsidized by locals who, having tasted the ambrosia of civilization, could not get enough.

So every year the pilgrims fly into Jackson for a long weekend to remember those early days and to offer thanks for surviving, to count blessings along with bank accounts. This Thanksgiving, as we stuff ourselves with turkey and football, let us give thanks and remember the struggles of the first pilgrims. PJH

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