“Redskins for Thanksgiving” / A Memorable Fancy #167

My mother used to say, “Tell us what you’re thankful for” while pausing over a hot bowl of mashed redskin potatoes, and every year I had to make up things to say that were honest, inoffensive, and always ending with “and you and Daddy,” although I never called my father “Daddy” any other time ─ that was a Hallmark word, not a real word people used, where I grew up anyway. “Pa” would have been more like it, although I don’t think I ever addressed my father as “Pa,” either. There is a problem about what to call your father to his face: all the words for that powerful, enigmatic presence seem embarrassing, inadequate.

When the Pilgrims asked the Indians what they were thankful for, perhaps the Indians didn’t quite know what they were supposed to be thankful for, or what they could say inoffensively, or what they should call the white man, that powerful, enigmatic presence. Perhaps “Friend” or even “Great White Father”; but not “Daddy.” Not ever “Daddy”.


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