This year, I made stuffed quails for us two. The sides were traditional turnip soup, green beans, and sweet potato pie.

It came about because we had a Thanksgiving with eight friends the Saturday before, and I provided the cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole. And Thanksgiving Day itself is not a holiday in France, so working friends have to work, and school kids are in school. And on the Saturday after the older grandkids were not available.

That left Thanksgiving Day itself a little different than most of my years here. Before the grandkids were around, we had a Thursday night Thanksgiving that started when guests could get there after work.

Once in those years, we took Thanksgiving on the road to my brother-in-law’s farm in Brittany, and the table was filled with his neighbors. Then when the grandkids were old enough to come to the table, we had Thanksgiving on Saturday after, and sometimes the Thursday also.

But this year, we just gave thanks that life has been good to us, and we ate at our little kitchen table. My better half dressed up for the occasion, and I pulled a sweater over the work shirt I had purchased a month earlier at the Tahquamenon Area Senior Citizens Center.

I love Thanksgiving for its family and friendly orientation, for the non-commercial aspect, for the laid back acceptance of brotherhood that it represents for me.

A week before, The New Yorker had an article about Thanksgiving that pretty much tears apart the image I grew up with, of the Indians and Pilgrims celebrating together.

The author suggests that the Pilgrims were making such a racket with their guns as they had a sort of harvest dinner that the Indians came to defend them, as part of a mutual defense agreement.

The article admits that they stayed together for three days of celebration, and that the Indians did bring venison and other meats to the party. But then he goes on to recount how badly the Indians fared in the years that followed, as the English settlers, hungry for land, pushed them away, and away, and away.

I understand if my friends who are Native Americans think less of this day than I do. The wealth of the United States today is based on two nasty moments of our past: slavery and genocide.

Only recently, from a historic point of view, has America legally believed that all men are created equal. For a long time, that phrase only meant men of European ancestry. Not blacks. Not Indians. Not women. A little less than 200 years ago that started to change, and women got franchised in 1920, Indians in 1924, and the Jim Crow era ended in 1964.

(About the turnips – Turnips are a family tradition for me, because my dad’s dad didn’t like turnips, but had them on Thanksgiving so he could be grateful to not have to eat them the rest of the year. Sometimes I grill them, but if I can fit a soup on the table I like that option. Turnips, a potato, chicken stock and cream, after warming up some onion in butter.)