As We Gave Thanks


November 22, 2018

Courtesy photo

"From Our House to Yours. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving."

It was cold, bitterly cold, on December 18, 1620 when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts to form their first colony in the New World. Since they had no shelter on land, they had to live on the ship for the next few months and ferried back and forth to the shore as they worked hard to build homes for their new colony. In March they began to move ashore permanently as shelter became available. But, the months aboard ship were devasting. One hundred settlers started the journey, but nearly half died before they were able to move ashore. Shortly after they moved into their new homes ashore the Pilgrims met an Indian named Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe. Squanto became a great friend to the settlers and even joined the colony. Squanto became the mediator and interpreter between the settlers and the other native tribes, including Chief Massosoit of the Pokanoket tribe.

1621 was beginning to show promise and a change in their fortunes. The corn crop produced a bountiful harvest and other crops flourished as well. The settlers had learned to hunt and found geese, turkeys, ducks and fish in abundance. That fall, Governor William Bradford declared a feast of thanksgiving for their good fortune, giving the settlers a communal celebration for giving thanks to God for the bounty of the year. The women spent several days preparing food for the feast. The corn was ground into meal for journey cakes, a bread made with corn meal and nuts. Pies were made using native fruit and berries and the dessert, oh ... the dessert, was just sumptuous. Pumpkin was cooked with maple syrup for a sweet and most pleasurable last course. The men who were sent out to hunt brought in such a surplus of turkeys, ducks and geese that the feast lasted for three days. Chief Massasoit and his Pokanoket tribe saw the preparations and on feast day showed up with venison and turkeys. A great time was had by all with the feasting and games as the native Indians and the Pilgrims joined together to give thanks for a prosperous year.

The first Thanksgiving Day in the new United States of America was declared by President George Washington to be observed on Thursday, November 26, 1789. In 1863, President Lincoln issued a proclamation that Thanksgiving Day would be observed on the fourth Thursday in November. However, it wasn't until 1941 that Congress passed a joint resolution finally establishing that day as a legal public holiday.

We still observe many of the traditional foods that were eaten by the Pilgrims and their Indian guests that first Thanksgiving. Stop and think. We may not all eat venison, but turkey is still the meat that most often graces our Thanksgiving table. In some parts of the country, roast goose and duck is common. And while journey cake may not be our staple now, cornbread stuffing is. What about that pumpkin pie? That's a yummy holdover that I hope we don't lose. Other fruit pies such as blueberry, gooseberry and cherry are still favorites. Don't forget the vegetables. We may have a much wider variety of sauces, but asparagus, green beans, mashed potatoes and others still round out a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal.

Since 1621, Thanksgiving Day has been a special day set aside to give thanks to God for all that he has done for us throughout the year. It may not have been formalized until 1941, but every President since George Washington has proclaimed a day of thanksgiving in November. I know that some, if not most, of you will receive the paper after Thanksgiving, but on this Thanksgiving Day I hope and I pray that you will take time to remember all the good things that have happened in 2018 and thank God for His provision and bounty. There has been too much negativity in the news and in general society that I think we may have forgotten that there are good things that have happened, too. In my humble opinion, the good has far outweighed the bad, but just doesn't seem to make the major news outlets. It's there and you really don't have to look far to find it. So, chin up, cheer up, open your hearts and reach out to your fellow man. We've always been good neighbors and at this time of year that light shines a little bit brighter. Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends, good food and good fellowship. Enjoy your time with those from near and far. If your loved ones can't make it for the holiday, pick up the phone and call them. Your call may just be the one thing they need to hear. For those of you with family members in the military, this can be an especially stressful time of year. Remember them and their duties that reach around the world to keep those of us here at home safe and secure. Let them know that they are present in your hearts if not in your home. Pray that God keeps them safe and brings them home again, wherever that may be. I pray for peace, good fortune and good health for each and every one of you for this Thanksgiving season. May your holiday be blessed. Happy Thanksgiving.


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