So how did you get here?
That question always came up at Thanksgiving celebrations at my grandparent's apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens, in New York City--because there were so many transportation choices (bus, subway, Long Island Expressway) and so many ways to outsmart or be done in by holiday traffic.
The way to grandmother's house at 88-35 Elmhurst Avenue--the Long Island Expressway or the #7 train (pictured above)
But ask that question at present day Thanksgiving in Palo Alto, California and you'll most likely hear about staying on after graduating from Stanford, or coming for the dot-com boom, or coming even earlier for the aerospace boom or the founding of Hewlett Packard. And then there are the folks here for generations--descended from gold miners or Boston sea captains, or apricot farmers or bootleggers.
And then there are the folks who don't want to tell you how they got here--because they are here illegally.
And there are the Native Americans who will tell you that they were already here.
In any event, I think its a great question to at least consider asking at Thanksgiving--a time which celebrates some early arrivals to this country.
Which brings me to my librarian Thanksgiving anecdote, which everyone who spends Thanksgiving with me will be forced to hear forever more.
It starts with a book: The Thanksgiving Ceremony: New Traditions for America's Family Feast by Edward Bleier, a former Warner Brothers and ABC executive on the Council on Foreign Relations. Its a small hardcover gift book filled with poems like Walt Whitman's I Hear America Singing and Maya Angelou's Black Family Pledge.
It was published by Crown Publishers in 2003 with a foreword by William Safire.
And you can buy it here: http://www.thanksgivingceremony.com or get it on your Kindle from Amazon.
There are quotes from the Bible and The Koran.
I especially like this one from Leviticus 19:9-10
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger.
And this one from The Buddha:
A noble person is thankful and mindfulof the favors he receives from others.
The Thanksgiving Ceremony also offers a brief history of America's Thanksgiving and provides a list of the 102 passengers who set sail on the Mayflower in September 1620.
Now here comes my anecdote.
According to Bleier, about one fourth of all Americans can claim an ancestor who came here aboard the Mayflower.
I am not one of the them.
My great- grandmother Zina Lubin, arrived at Ellis Island with her infant son Raymond in 1908 aboard the Lusitania.
But I digress. The anecdote is about a library patron whose family has been in the United States for centuries.
Last year I handed her The Thanksgiving Ceremony and said, "I think you'll enjoy this--it has the passenger list from the Mayflower and your relatives are most likely on it."
She looked at me sternly and corrected me saying,
"Oh no, my ancestors were not on the Mayflower. We came to Virginia way before that...and we had our own boat!"
Nothing like a little Thankgiving one-upmanship!
In any event, I am grateful to my relatives who arrived here a century ago from Russia.
I am grateful to the woman whose family arrived here several centuries ago from England--since she is one of many library patrons who contribute to my salary.
And now I leave you with a quote from the "Inspirational Thanksgiving Material" section of The Thanksgiving Ceremony:
A man who possesses genius is insufferable unless he also possesses at least two other things: gratitude and cleanliness--Friedrich Nietzsche
And now the closing hymn:
Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness
Sowing in the noontide and the dewey eves;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping
We shall come, rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
Causes Lauren John Supports
Keplers Bookstore Circle of Friends (Menlo Park)
Friends of the Menlo Park Public Library
Book Group Expo
Marin Agricultural Land Trust...