This is the third and last post in a Thanksgiving series. I do not often quote other writers on this site but the facts in this post are taken from “Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember” by Barbara Rainey.
“By October 1621 the corn planted that spring was ready for harvest. The fields yielded a large crop that would keep the colony from starvation in the coming winter. Their hearts were full of gratitude for their renewed health, for the abundant harvest, and for the peace they enjoyed with the Indians.
William Bradford, who at thirty three years of age had been elected leader of the colony after the death of John Carver that summer, was thankful for the harvest. As the new governor, he declared that Plymouth should hold a thanksgiving festival and invite the settlement’s Indian friends as special guests. A date was set, and an invitation delivered to Chief Massasoit.
When Massasoit arrived with ninety hungry braves, the Pilgrims became worried. How could they feed that many people? And if they used too much of their precious stockpiled corn, would they have adequate food supply to survive the winter?
When Massasoit and his men arrived at Plymouth, they too went to the woods and seashore to gather food. The Pilgrims breathed a sigh of relief and began preparing the meal.
When it was time to eat, the menu was impressive: venison, goose, lobster, eel, oysters, clam chowder, parsnips, turnips, cucumbers, onions, carrots, cabbage, beets, radishes, and dried fruit that included gooseberries, strawberries, cherries, plums, and ashcakes, and popcorn (provided by the Indians.)
The feasting continued over a three-day period, during which both Indians and Pilgrims participated in games and exhibitions of shooting skill with bows and arrows and guns. The Pilgrim boys joined the races and wrestling matches of the Indians, and in turn the Indians learned how to play stoolball – a game resembling croquet.”
The Pilgrims lost 50% of those that had traveled over on the Mayflower with them. Imagine! Just think of journeying to a new land and half of your group dies!
BUT! God was not through with them yet! They absolutely could not know what America would grow to be! They could not know what they were starting: the amazing nation, the United States of America! But God had brought them to this new land. And after such a harsh winter, it was spring again. They had learned to farm. They had made friends with the Indians. They were going to survive. I don’t know about you, but when we get in a circle at Thanksgiving time and share what we are thankful for, I have never said, “I am going to survive. Thank God.” Well, that was their thanks! They looked at the remaining children, their remaining family, and said, “We have hope. We have God. Look what he has done. It looks like our dream of this new country is going to come true after all. Let’s give thanks.” So, a week early, I say to all my friends in the United States of America, and to all my friends around the world, “Let’s give thanks for what God has done.” HAPPY THANKSGIVING!