Thanksgiving - Some History

Monday, November 22, 2010

Confession: I'm a bit of a nerd.

This blog encourages my nerdiness.

Because of this blog, I felt compelled to "research" (read: google) Thanksgiving. I don't want to forget Thanksgiving.

Thanks to, I was reminded that in in the spring of 1621, the surviving half of the Mayflower's original passengers, "received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto . . . who taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants." Turns out that Squanto also spoke English, because he had been kidnapped by an English sea captain, sold into slavery, escaped to London, and then returned to what we now call America.

Yes. You read that right. Kidnapped, slavery, learned English, escaped, and returned just in time to help the Pilgrims.

Really? Wow.

In November 1621,"after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies," to what became a three day festival. Pilgrim Edward Winslow later described the feast writing, "And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are . . . far from want."

I sit here, flabbergasted, by so many aspects of this story.

(1) I don't know if I would have survived that first winter in America. I live such a comfortable life here and now, and yet so many do not. I have so, so much.
(2) The Native Americans who came to help the Pilgrims spoke English. I mean, really, what are the odds? Could it be that God had a hand in that?
(3) Squanto helped the Pilgrims. If I had been kidnapped and sold into slavery by some English-speaking people, I'm pretty sure I would not have volunteered to help other English-speaking strangers when I discovered them washed up in my homeland. What an amazing example of generosity and forgiveness. Could I ever be so generous or forgiving? Is there an area of my life where I should try?
(4) I am amazed by these timeless words: "And although it be not always so plentiful . . . by the goodness of God we are . . . far from want." Isn't that the truth?

We are far from want.

What are you grateful for? Let's make a list.

I'll start: I'm grateful for history, for sturdy Pilgrims and generous Native Americans, sleepy boys and warm beds, carrot cake and coffee, sunshine and bright orange leaves. . . .

Giving Day 22 - I worked at our church's Wise Giving table on Sunday, handing out and explaining the annual "alternative giving catalog." My sales pitch continues here. The idea is to make a donation to a local or international nonprofit, in honor of someone, who will then get a gift card saying, "A gift was given in your honor to ______." For $20, you can provide preventive health-care for a child in Kenya. For $5, you can supply a nutritious meal for a neighbor in need via Meals on Wheels. For $60, you can feed the entire school for one day at The Lamb Institute in Honduras. This list goes on. . . and YOU can see it all, order, and pay online, here. Good stuff.

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2 Responses to “Thanksgiving - Some History”

  1. I really love the Edward Winslow quote! Our church does a similar "alternative giving" program called "Glorious Gifts." Such a great idea.

    I am grateful for many things, but here are a few: my relationship with God and the support that surrounds that relationship, my amazing friends and family, for the "most wonderful time of the year" and being able to teach my daughter about the true meaning, and for triscuits and Diet Dr. Pepper. :-)

  2. The entire Thanksgiving history is also contained in the second half of Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving. I also didn't know all of that until I watched it last week (all by myself I might add!).

    We're doing donations to the Kenya Project for our teachers and my flute students. I'm a lot more excited about giving those than I have been about those gifts in previous years!