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The site of America's first Thanksgiving is up for debate, notably where Virginia is concerned. (Aside: where there are matters of national origin or first American families, Virginia will always concern itself.) Clearly, the universally agreed-upon venue for the first Thanksgiving remains Plymouth, Massachusetts. The famously friendly, plum-and-pumpkin, good cheer feast of deer, fish and clams amongst English colonists, Mass. Gov. Wm. Bradford with neighborhood Wampanoag Indians and their chief Massasoit is the model on which all modern Thanksgiving gatherings are re-imagined. Of course, as oft happens, Virginia says they did it first, if not with far less of that good cheer. Initializing the holiday with a much more boring and somber Thanksgiving, the Old Dominion holds firm to its claim, via Berkeley Plantation in 1619. Specious, but technically arguable, Berkeley's riparian shores along the James River ripple with questionable authenticity.

December 4, 1619, one year prior to the legendary Plymouth Rock, Mayflower landing, Captain John Woodleaf and a few dozen English settlers landed some twenty miles shy of Jamestowne Island, at Berkeley Hundred: an 8,000-acre land grant of the Virginia Company of London awarded to Sir William Throckmorton, Sir George Yeardley, George Thorpe, Richard Berkeley and John Smyth in 1618. After ten weeks at sea, and upon landing on Virginia soil, naturally, Captain Woodleaf and his men, the legend goes, dropped to their knees and Woodleaf thanked God then and there in an impromptu, outdoor service for their safe arrival. (Blink, blink.) The official Charter of Berkeley Hundred states “We ordaine [sic] that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” So, yeah. It was a first Thanksgiving, of sorts.

Whatever your thoughts about all that, Berkeley Plantation (open for tours), built in 1726 and cup o' sugar-sharing distance to neighboring Westover Plantation (not open for tours, but stunning if you're lucky enough to garner a private showing, comme Moi), remains standing and is a spectacular monument to early-Georgian architecture. Of most historical importance, Berkeley is ancestral home to the Harrison Family. Here sits the home of both Declaration of Independence Signer and Virginia governor, Benjamin Harrison V, as well as two U.S. Presidents: William Henry Harrison (#9) and his grandson, Benjamin Harrison (#23). Notably, Wm. Henry also hits a Berkeley historical marker as the U.S. president with the shortest tenure: a mere thirty-two days. True to his "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too", frontiersman persona and fearing he might look like a weak leader, Harrison refused to don neither coat nor chapeau on his bitterly cold, winter inauguration day. (Trying to imagine President Harrison with an aide holding an umbrella over his head. Cannot.) One moth later, he died of pneumonia. Wear your coats, kids; but carry your own umbrellas. Queen Elizabeth II does.

Two-hundred and forty-four years after Woodleaf and his crew landed on James River shores, President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, amidst the horror of the Civil War, proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens, to be honoured the last Thursday of November. For the next seventy-five years, U.S. presidents followed suit. Then FDR came along and, naturally, made some changes.

President Roosevelt noted there were five Thursdays in November of 1939; he also noted, helped along with some nudging by retailers, this meant Thanksgiving would fall on the 30th, leaving a mere twenty-four shopping days to Christmas. A nation still recovering from The Great Depression needed a little more shopping therapy than that and, lo and behold, his Thanksgiving Proclamation set the penultimate Thursday of the month as Thanksgiving Day. Of course, as folks are wont to do, everybody bitched about this for reasons ranging from calendar reprinting to football game rescheduling to crying political foul, his Republican opponents even calling it Franksgiving. Since then, the day has stuck like Mom's cheesy potatoes to a serving spoon and we dare any sitting president to even think about changing it back to a pre-FDR date.

Regardless of where and when you like your Thanksgiving, North or South, penultimate or ultimate, whether you prefer Sam Adams or Southern Comfort, Nathaniel Hawthorne or Tennessee Williams, Patrick Leahy or Saxby Chambliss, Patriots or Cowboys, Americans can all agree 'tis a fabulous day to feast, imbibe, dress up, share good cheer and, most American of all, watch TV!

If you happen to be in Virginia, you'll find more than a few great venues for your own Thanksgiving, should you choose dining out, instead of going the home-cooking route: Alexandria (a.k.a. Alex, by the locals), Arlington, Georgetown, Williamsburg, Richmond, Ghent, Charlottesville. No matter where you dine, there shall be no debate about this; a traditional, 17th or 18thC.  tavern meal is always a wonderful idea! If you've read my Savannah of Williamsburg novels, you will recall many a tavern scene; if you've not read them ... for what are you waiting?! Enjoy here a sample menu from King's Arms Tavern, along picturesque Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg. Best book now at any of CW's historic taverns! Can't do it this time? Book early for next year and make it a family plan! (Fellow vegetarians, take note: stick with the peanut soup, cheese sippets, pumpkin pie and copious amounts of Cabernet and authentic, Wampanoag cappuccino. You'll do fine!)

A Thanksgiving Feast at Colonial Williamsburg's King's Arms Tavern

  • First Course
Peanut Soup
garnished with chopped peanuts and sippets (cheese crisps)
King’s Arms Seasonal Greens
with marinated tomatoes, carrots, raspberry vinaigrette
  • Second Course
Roasted Turkey
with savory herb dressing and giblet gravy
Bourbon-Honey Roasted Yams
with Cranberry-Orange Relish
Pan-Cooked Red Snapper
with finest crabmeat, butter-dill sauce and roasted garlic potatoes
Slow-roasted Prime Rib of Beef
seasoned with colonial spices, red wine reduction, horseradish, roasted garlic potatoes
  • Third Course
Pumpkin Pie with nutmeg cream
Chocolate Cake with raspberry sauce
Pecan Pie with caramel drizzle
Williamsburg Cinnamon Ice Cream
R. Charlton's American Heritage Coffee

 

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In this season of family, good friends and, of course, the annual roasting of a grand feast, whatever that may be (Tofurkey is always nice!), I thought I might proffer a wee excerpt from the upcoming Savannah of Williamsburg: Washington, Wisdom and The West, Virginia 1754. Though originally written as a springtime campfire song, Bloody Mary, Don't Roast Me Tonight makes for a great family sing-along, no matter what the occasion! One might hear it 'round an 18thC. Appalachian campfire, or 'round your own Thanksgiving table, anywhere across this great country. Happy Thanksgiving, America!

Excerpt from Savannah of Williamsburg: Washington, Wisdom and The West, Virginia 1754

Dante turned his attention to Jeremiah, whom was tuning his cittern: a small, medieval-era, stringed instrument. It was similar to a mandolin, but with a longer neck and a flatter back. Usually played with a quill or a plectrum, Jeremiah needed neither. His claws were the perfect, natural plectrums. Cincinnatus was sitting up straight, lengthening his diaphragm as he prepared to sing. Both Mason boys had removed their trail hats, leather tricorns, and replaced them with what they called their 'ficial sing-songin' hats, which looked very similar to Robin Hood hats. They were green wool and sported an interesting and plentiful collection of feathers: one feather collected from each adventure they shared. This adventure had yet to provide the perfect find.

 

Jeremiah and Cincinnatus had an affinity for medieval music and their feathered hats helped them get into that spirit. In between them, staring dumbly into the campfire they'd built outside their tent, sat Sparky. He did not possess a 'ficial sing-songin' hat, but was always eager to join whatever the scene was. So, he had taken one of his neckerchiefs, one which happened to be of a thick, olive-green linen, and tied it around his head. He pulled it backwards into a point, so it approximated a Robin Hood hat, and sported it proudly as he awaited the music. When he tore his gaze away from the flame, he realized Dante was in-camp and yelled out to him, a little too loudly.

 

"Dante! Dante! Over here! Come sit with us! We's playin' music! We's having ourselves a mee-dee-vull sing-song!" he patted the empty space on the log next to him.

 

Dante happily obliged. In a contest of editing versus singing, singing always won. He settled onto the log and crossed a boot over his other leg, the way Washington had done. It turned out that the earlier argument between the mink brothers had been about a song. More precisely, it had been about the title of a song. In the end, Jeremiah had ceded to Cincinnatus' choice: Bloody Mary, Don't Roast Me Tonight.

 

Bloody Mary, Don't Roast Me Tonight

lyrics by Jennifer Susannah Devore

 

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary,

Why is your heart so black tonight?

The sky is so clear, the stars so bright.

Why is your heart so black tonight?

Summer of 1553 began your Terrific Reign of Might.

Oh, why is your heart so black tonight?

Your hair gleams like a raven, your smile faint like a ghost.

'Tis a beauteous evening for a campfire,

But not for a Protestant roast.

 

 

Note: As with previous songs, in previous titles, Bloody Mary, Don't Roast Me Tonight is inspired by the author's many musical friends. Thank you, pals!

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Excerpt from Savannah of Williamsburg: Washington, Wisdom and The West, Virginia 1754, Book IV of the Savannah of Williamsburg series of books, by Jennifer Susannah Devore. All rights reserved. Property of KIMedia, LLC. Excerpt may be shared digitally for entertainment,  non-commercial purposes only and may not be reprinted in analog format or sold in any format, digital, analog or otherwise.

 

 
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Something is different, something hearty in the air.

‘Tis crisper, cooler, brisker, sharper,

Like a bite from a chilled, candied apple.

The wind and weather now zip through the trees.

Shaking loose leaves of orange, red and gold,

Leaving mere bones and fingers of bark and birch.

 

Dark Italian roasts, mulled spider ciders and spiced pumpkin lattes,

Perfect complements to all the season’s feasts.

Families are amassing, friends are warming near,

Enveloped and embraced by a fete’s baking, cooking and cocktails,

All warm and sugared comforts, certain to please.

 

Cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, coffee and wine,

The smells of the season lead us home year after year.

Bringing the best of autumn together, the best of family and friends,

The very best of everything, the very best of us on this Thanksgiving Day.

 

 

 

Happy Tofurkey Day to All!

 
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Caffè  Florian: Intruder Alert

 

by

Jennifer Susannah Devore

 

Little Miss JennyPop, as most people know,

Longed to revisit 18thC. Venice; she was always ready to go.

 

So to Caffè Florian, the oldest in the world - 1720 - she did flock.

For this Italian adventure, naturally, she packed her most Verdi-inspired frock.

 

On a rainy, Veneto night, into Florian they fled,

Sipping famed Florian brandy and espresso, JennyPop and her belov-ed.

 

Taking in a glistening, empty, St. Mark's Square,

The two shared an Enlightenment moment, looking quite the pair.

 

When down plopped beside them, a policeman and his wife,

An L.A. County sheriff and his clangorous lass, instantly spoke, ad nauseam, all about their life.

 

Like a boom in the shot, a fly in the wine,

They guffawed and gamboled too loudly, far from sublime.

 

We got two babies back in Big Bear! Do you know it?

I sure do love my babies ... the wife hesitated a bit.

 

Buuuuut? JennyPop prompted.

It sure is nice to get away sometimes, she admitted. Isn't it?

 

Leave me alone. Please exit my reveries.

This is my time, my moment, to experience the Seventeen-Twenties.

 

I don't really like people, JennyPop awkwardly blurted.

Fortunately, to her more affable half, the convo quickly reverted.

 

If one day you see JennyPop, lost in historical daydreams,

in a museum, cathedral or historic caffè,

Feel free to chat with her, quietly, then, please, go away.

 

 

Enjoy JennyPop's full EuroPop slideshow for Winter 2K18! Ciao, tutti!

 

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JennyPop's Amazon Author Page, to boot!

 

 
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When the postcard-perfect days in sunny San Diego gnaw on her Addams Family aura, JennyPop (aka author Jennifer Susannah Devore) seeks the cold, the grey and the drizzly. East of the Mississippi is usually a good bet. Did she get more than she bargained for with 2018's Beast from the East?! Single-digit days may have pushed her cold threshold, but the Siberian Beast filled her happy-goth heart with glacier-blue joy. Just for you, kittens, she slipped off her cashmere gloves and froze her twee fingertips, whenever was necessary, to snap so many fun and fab pix.

It also gave her the opportunity to sport Mom's cashmere overcoat (finally!), tromp through an icy castle, use her German, French and Italian languages (rarely an opportunity in San Diego) and practice some very bad Czech. (Stop laughing at how I pronounce Děkuju. Czech is a difficult language, far more so than Dutch!) Cold weather also means refuge in her fave bars, museums, cathedrals and shops ... plus a few new ones. Enjoy a few more PopSpecs from Venice, Paris, Vienna and Prague.

Yes, btw, Piglet made it all over Europe again ... and back this time! Scroll down my Insta feed for Piglet's Grand Viennese Adventure of September 2K17.)

Tchuss, Alles meinen Freunden!

(P.S. As always, give JennyPop slideshows a moment to load. So much goodness! Vielen Dank!)

 

Visiting Venice and Caffè Florian, oldest coffeehouse in the world? If you see JennyPop there, maybe sit elsewhere, or at least be silent.

Follow @JennyPopCom Twitter and Insta

JennyPop's Amazon Author Page, to boot!

 

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JennyPopcorn: Netflix New Releases

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    Ambitious Mae Holland can't believe her good luck when the mightiest tech company on Earth -- The Circle -- hires her. But Mae's enthusiasm for her new job wavers after meeting a colleague who's skeptical of the company's objectives.
  • Gifted

    When his sister dies, 30-something bachelor Frank Adler assumes the care of her 7-year-old daughter. But his plans to raise her are threatened when the child reveals herself to be a math prodigy, and his mom suddenly gets involved.
  • The Boss Baby

    An addition to the family in the form of a suit-wearing baby brother has 7-year-old Tim worried about losing his parents' affection. But when a corporate plot threatens the balance of love in the world, Tim teams with his sibling to foil the scheme.
  • Colossal

    Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is an out-of-work party girl who, after getting kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend (Dan Stevens), is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown where she's reunited with her childhood friend (Jason Sudeikis). When news...

Theme from Savannah of Williamsburg: The Trials of Blackbeard and His Pirates (Book II)

Blackbeard's Chanty:"Me Cup is Broke!"Music by PBIII, lyrics by Jennifer Susannah Devore

Meet Miss JennyPop

Jennifer Susannah Devore

Jenny Pop is the acclaimed Author of the Savannah of Williamsburg series of books and The Darlings of Orange County. In addition, Jen is a prolific consumer of media and pop culture. Never leaving the house without her journal and fave Waterman pen, an old-fashioned, analog book (usually Hunter S. Thompson) and a fresh coat of lipstick, she is constantly on the hunt for fun, espresso, animation  and comics of any kind and always ready for an impromptu day at Disneyland.  JennyPop.net is a natural extension of  Jen's World; so, spend some time visiting. You'll have fun, she promises!

Meet The Darlings

The Darlings of Orange County

The sexy, cashmere beaches of southern California aren't always what they seem. The dirty little secret here is what it takes to survive. Everyone has a trick up their silk sleeve. Liz Lemon meets Parker Posey, Veronica Darling is smart enough to know what it takes and is willing to soil her soul to bring Hollywood to the California Riviera. The Darlings of Orange County is a salacious, hilarious, harrowing romp chock full of eco-terrorism, horse-racing scandals, weed deals and the obligatory lipstick-lesbian affair that inevitably leads to murder. It all climaxes in a white-knuckled, glitzy, celebrity-stacked Laguna Beach Film Premiere that spells success for Veronica Darling and trouble for her friends and family.

Meet Miss Savannah Squirrel

Savannah Prudence Squirrel

Savannah Prudence Squirrel

Meet Miss Savannah of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Equal parts Amelia Earhart, Lucy Honeychurch, Scarlett O'Hara and Miss Piggy, Savannah is a scholar, adventurer and a lady. Moreover, she is a pebble in the silver-buckled shoe of injustice and with her best pals she is not a squirrel to challenge. She carries  the Magna Carta in one paw and the latest Parisian silk bag in her other. Whether fighting to end slavery, arguing for freedom of the press or scheming to end a duel, Miss Savannah does so with wit and persistence. Read more to meet her best friends and accomplices: Ichabod Wolfgang and Dante Marcus Pritchen. Prepare to also meet pirates, a Venetian fox and an Irish gull, The Commodore!

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hmhsallylorenjavier.jpg

Meet Miss Hannah

Hannah Hart, ghost dame of the Hotel del Coronado

Hannah Hart, ghost dame of the Hotel del Coronado

So, here's the low down, all you Joes and Janes ... I'm Hannah Hart, dead girl. Don't fret, it's actually a sweet dish being dead. Having perished in 1934 in a terrifically vicious accessories incident with actress Ida Lupino, I reside where I died: San Diego's gorgeous Hotel del Coronado. It ain't a bad gig at all, really! Great weather, swanky guests (not to mention a few fellow ghosties), amazing amenities, my own private turret overlooking the sea and all the java juice and giggle water I can handle; plus, these bartenders know how to make a Planter's Punch like nobody's business! See, I've been waiting for this Internet thing forever ... now, instead of slamming doors and moving lamps, I get to wag my tongue all I like at goodtobeageek.com

Abyssinia, kids!