Giving Thanks for Fry Bread by Trevor Scott Barton
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
“Wait, Mr Barton,” said my students. “You mean Christmas isn’t your favorite holiday? That’s when you get presents and stuff!”
“Nope,” I said. I like the ‘Thanks’ and the ‘Giving’ parts of Thanksgiving. I like to say ‘thanks’ to all of the people who mean the world to me. And I like ‘giving’ all that I have and all that I am to the world.
And guess what? YOU are some of the people who mean the world to me. YOU are Thanksgiving to me.
So I want to give one of the best things I can give to you.
I want to give you a STORY.
They all sat around me.
If Norman Rockwell had been here, he would’ve painted the scene.
“Look closely and listen carefully to this book,” I said.
“Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.”
(Have you seen and heard this book? Beautiful. Ingenious. Wonderful. Courageous. Ah, picture books. They give life. They are life.)
“Look at the back cover. Tell me the first thing you notice.”
“It’s a family,” said Neveyah.
“They’re close together,” said Sha’Mari.
“They’re different colors,” said Cintia.
“They come from different places,” said Daniel.
“Yes!” I said. “It’s an illustration of a Bartonism.”
And all together we said, “No person is better than another person. We’re ALL worth EVERYTHING.”
My heart smiled, as it often does during the school day.
“The thing that brings them together is Fry Bread. Something so simple. Yet something so extraordinary. They sit with each other and eat Fry Bread together.
That is Thanksgiving to me.
So now I want to give something to you.
I’m going to make Fry Bread for you.
“What?!” they exclaimed. “You can cook?”
“If I have a recipe,” I said. “And follow it exactly. So I took the book, held it open to the page with the ingredients for Fry Bread, and walked through the grocery store, placing the ingredients in my bag.”
You should’ve seen their faces as I pulled out corn meal, flour, yeast, raw sugar and sea salt.
You should’ve heard the excitement as I mixed everything together in my big bowl and poured it into the griddle.
The sizzle. The smell. The Fry Bread.
“My mamí makes Fry Bread,” said Daniel.
“Let’s make a deal,” I said to him.
“If mine turns out yucky (a word, btw, that made us giggle), then your mamí can make her Fry Bread for us. I know hers would be better than mine.”
But, do you know what?
Mine was GOOD!
They came back for seconds.
Kevin came back for fifths!
And we sat WITH each other.
And we ate TOGETHER.
And we had Fry Bread.
And we had Thanksgiving.
All in a day in public school.
Trevor Scott Barton is a teacher and writer in Greenville, SC. He looks and listens for beauty in the plain, genius in the simple, wonder in the ordinary, and courage in the human. You can follow his work on Twitter @teachandwrite