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The Day of Onerous Tasks

November 29, 2013

The Spy family successfully celebrated our national holiday at Spy Headquarters. It’s the first time since before Mr. Spy and I were married that we’ve celebrated without Mr. Spy’s family, and I have to say that it was more successful than expected. While I’m not sure I have enough for a full Thanksgiving Index this year, I am pleased to report that we maintained a healthy pie to people ration of 1:1, so it was a fairly successful event. It also marks the first time that I am personally acquainted with nearly all of the people who grew or raised the food I cooked with, which was surprisingly nice, even though I found picking up my turkey from the back of a truck full of dead birds a little disconcerting. I was a vegetarian for 20 years after all. It dies hard (but probably not as hard as the turkeys).

After I played morning Mass, the rest of the day was pretty much standard issue. I stopped by Cranky and J’s house to say happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah and to pick up my roasting pan, a small detail I’d inadvertently forgotten about since last Thanksgiving when Cranky was cooking and I was not. And then I spent the rest of the day puttering around the kitchen and watching the boys watch football and playing board games and stomping around in the cold and mostly empty park, which was especially lovely.

But today, I would be remiss to remind you about a little known holiday that we should all be celebrating. Here, from the way back machine is a description of the history of The Day of Onerous Tasks, in the words of Mr. Spy, who has written a children’s book on the First Thanksgiving and is therefore an Expert.

The Day of Onerous Tasks
by Mr. Spy

Each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, families spend a special day together. This day is called the Day of Onerous Tasks. (Tasks are jobs or chores. Onerous means not fun and not pleasant.)

The Day of Onerous Tasks was first celebrated by the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1621. After eating their first Thanksgiving feast, the Pilgrims found they were left with many dishes and pots to wash. There were also many empty bottles and shattered casks scattered around the colony. (Casks are barrels filled with alcoholic drinks for grownups.) Someone had to clean this mess up.

The Pilgrim grownups noticed that the Pilgrim children seemed to have a lot of energy. This was because the Pilgrim children had spent the First Thanksgiving eating many sweet, sugary pies and cakes and turkeys covered in maple syrup. The grownups, on the other hand, were very tired from all their hard work and heavy drinking. The grownups decided that the children should clean up all the dishes and bottles and shattered casks.

So on the day after the first Thanksgiving feast, the children of the Plymouth colony were instructed to stay home from school and clean up the colony’s mess. There was much complaining. Many time-outs were ordered. But eventually the colony was made clean again. This was the first Day of Onerous Tasks.

Today, families all around the country still celebrate the Day of Onerous Tasks. Children still complain about their chores and parents still order time-outs. But the Day of Onerous Tasks is an important part of the Thanksgiving celebration. How does your family observe the Day of Onerous Tasks?

Happy Day of Onerous Tasks, everyone! Or, to those for whom it is not a happy day, get back to work!

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 29, 2013 3:21 pm

    I spent today braving the crowds at Costco and teaching Finale to a man who had once suffered a head injury in a car accident. Onerous is a good description of my tasks.

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