Weekend Wanderer: The Thanksgiving Activity List That Wasn’t

personal growth for all

Last year, I gave you a list of Thanksgiving activities.

That list was heavy on turkeys, light on Pilgrims. That’s because I was rejected by the Pilgrims.

Sort of.

I’ll tell you the story of my rejection. But first, I’m going to tell you about Harry Truman.

Wait! Don’t go! I promise this isn’t a history lesson.

Well, “promise” is a strong word. But I promise I’ll really, really try to keep this from being a history lesson.

The Washington Post ran this article last week. It’s about a society of presidential descendants.

That sounds very Da Vinci Code-ish, now that I’m typing it.

It’s not.

It’s actually quite staid. But isn’t staid what you want in your presidential descendants?

I mean, look at how bananas we all got over JFK, Jr. Do you really want to feel that way over, say, a Roosevelt? Or a Nixon? Should George Washington’s eight-times great-grandson make us pant?

No. No, he shouldn’t.

It’s Truman’s grandson who serves as vice president of this society. He – and the other society members – feel they are stewards of presidential legacy. So, I don’t think they invite self-flagellating, Tom Hanks-chasing monks into their clubhouse.

I can relate to these presidential descendants. I am the ninth great-granddaughter of a man who arrived at Plymouth Rock on the fourth ship after the Mayflower.

I mean, I’m basically next in line for the British throne.

There is a museum dedicated to this great-grandfather in Massachusetts.

I emailed the museum. I am a direct descendant of their mission. I figured if the museum was Instagram, I’d be its Kardashian.

As it turns out, the museum saw me the way I think most of us see the Kardashians – not of much use and a little annoying.

They didn’t even offer me free admission.

So, Pilgrims didn’t make my Thanksgiving activity list. And just a thought here, Pilgrims. You have kind of a tarnished history. Your own country didn’t even like you. Can you really afford to shun friends?

Or family? Because that’s what I am. I’m family, guys. I could be in Plymouth signing autographs and waving like Kate Middleton.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve been rejected by history a few times.

I share a multi-great-grandfather with another ancestor who flirted with antiquity, albeit a bit more dubiously.

This several-greats uncle – or is he a cousin? – owned a horse stable near Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. He rented a horse to John Wilkes Booth. The very horse Booth used to escape after he assassinated Abraham Lincoln.

I think they probably don’t let you ascend the British throne if your ancestor went about renting horses to presidential assassins. Or maybe they do – if they think you’ll surrender the 13 colonies back to the crown.

According to American Brutus by Michael W. Kaufmann, my uncle/cousin was unaware of the plot to topple the government. He was friends with a Booth co-conspirator, who introduced the two men.

This is probably why I don’t like making new friends. First, they want a ride, then they implicate you in treason.

I once stumbled across a docent manning the Lincoln assassination display at the National Constitution Center. I relayed my ancestry to her. She was intrigued.

But that was about it.

Although that’s more than I can say about the museum in Plymouth.

I found a picture of my uncle/cousin’s stable. I showed it to my husband. He was not very excited, but I think he’s just mad that A) he’s not descended from a fourth-ship-after-the-Mayflower passenger; B) he’s not descended from a stable-owner, or C) I called him a Scrooge.

It’s probably C.

Truman’s grandson has a double-secret society for presidential descendants. I am searching for a society of my own.

But I was too busy to finish my application to the Daughters of the American Revolution. They kicked me off their e-mail list.

Even though I have two four-times great-grandfathers who fought in the Revolution.

What can I say? My ancestors liked participating in history. Although it seems they bumped up against the nefarious side a lot. Revolutionaries. Assassins. I even had one who ran with a pirate.

Well, that’s what my dad says. But last week he told me to sell land he owns to Alec Baldwin, so I’m not sure I should really listen to him.

And I’m not done with the stable-owner. Next month, I’m visiting Ford’s Theater for a performance of A Christmas Carol. They might think it’s cool to have the stable owner’s descendant in their theater.

Or they might kick me out, considering what happened the last time one of us was loitering about.

Either way, my somewhat vindictive Thanksgiving list is there for you to visit. Or you can check out the much jollier list assembled by my colleague Christine.

Ooh! Maybe Christine and I can form our own society! Holiday activity list makers! What do you say, Christine? Are you in?

Christine? Hello? Christine?


Rejected again.