It’s Thanksgiving. And while all of America is thinking about turkey and stuffing, we’re thinking more about how all that feasting makes everyone just plain sleepy.
We can’t help it. Great sleep is our business.
And while we’ve been pondering post-feast naps, we can’t help but ponder those early colonists on their first Thanksgiving. And that, naturally, led us to wonder:
What were they sleeping on? Or under?
After a little research, here's what we have learned.
They were sleeping in single room cottages with dirt floors, on mattresses stuffed with straw. So how did they keep warm?
Wool. This wonderfully versatile fiber adorned their bodies from their blankets to their socks on up. That’s because wool doesn’t just keep the body “warm,” rather, it helps the body thermo-regulate, or maintain a core internal temperature – not too hot, not too cold. Animal furs might be nice for extra warmth in the bitter cold, but wool keeps the body comfortable year-round.
So with all those wool blankets, skirts and wool suits, here’s an interesting fact.
There was no lamb served at the first Thanksgiving.
In fact, there were no sheep to be found.
That’s because wool was extremely important to the English economy, so much so that back in the 1300s, Kind Edward III insisted that the Lord Chancellor should sit on a wool bale in parliament to show its central role in the national finances (hence the tradition today for the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords to sit on “the woolsack.”)
The colonists weren’t producing their own wool, because English laws attempted to prevent wool exports from the colonies while encouraging the colonists to purchase all their clothing from England.
That was about as popular as a wet blanket.
Or about as popular as a tax on tea.
Eventually the colonists did acquire sheep, of course, and wool textiles became central to New England’s economy. In fact, it was the colonists’ abilities to be self-reliant – to keep sheep, grow their food, weave their cloth and provide for their daily needs – that ultimately enabled our founding fathers to sign the Declaration of Independence and fight for our independence. Indeed, there was so much correspondence about the importance of sheep in our early years leading to our Independence, they were considered a matter of national security. In order to gain independence, our ancestors stopped eating lamb to increase their flock sizes, to increase the wool needed to blanket a new nation.
And for that, (among many, .many other things) we are Thankful!