Nov. 8, 2022 Preparing for Thanksgiving
November 8, 2022
Preparing for Thanksgiving. Isn't it a little early? Well, maybe, but I wanted to let you know about some books and websites that might be helpful to children as we roll up to the holiday. I also have a few comments about the history of Thanksgiving as well. First the books and websites and then some history.
Excellent children's books about Thanksgiving are suggested on Nancy Hird's Books 4 Christian Kids book review site. I heartily recommend these titles.
WEBSITES for kids: The Plimouth and Patuxet Museum Activities and Games for Students and MayflowerHistory.com
Now, to some fascinating facts about Thanksgiving. In 2013, I wrote The Mayflower Compact for readers 8-12. Unfortunately, the book is now out of print, although used copies are available online. I greatly enjoyed the research, which included a visit to the recreated Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The original Thanksgiving was celebrated 401 years ago, a year after the Pilgrims reached Plimoth. Their corn crop had done well, and the community was learning about local fish, plants, and game. (Strange as it may seem to us, the bay was full of various kinds of clams, oysters, etc., that the Pilgrims had been reluctant to eat during that first year.) The first Thanksgiving was truly that, an opportunity to thank God for the good harvest. They were also thankful for the help of the local Wampanoag people and their leader Massasoit.
Today, revisionist history often seeks to alter what actually occured in American history. In terms of the Pilgrims, it is historical fact that the Pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom. They had been forced to leave England, which was ruled by King James I. The King prohibited any expression of religion other than that of the Church of England. The Pilgrims were Separatists, meaning they had separated from the Church of England. They left England for Leiden in Holland. In Leiden they were free to practice their faith, but eventually their children were becoming more Dutch than English. That spurred the Separatists to take the bold step of crossing the Atlantic to the New World. Most of the men were merchants with little or no idea how to build a settlement or farm the land. They were truly entering a "new world."
We are often told of antagonism between these early Europeans settlers and Native Americans. However, it was the friendship of people like Samoset and Squanto which helped the Pilgrims survive. A peace treaty between John Carter, Governor of Plimoth Colony, and the Wampanoag leader, Massasoit, was honored for forty years. Eventually there were disputes with resulting violence, but the breach did not occur during the early years of Plimoth Colony.
The first Thanksgiving was a friendly feast that included both the surviving Pilgrim settlers and 90 Wampanoag men. Here are a few facts:
- During the Pilgrims' voyage to America, a baby boy was born. He was called Oceanus Hopkins. (Oceanus is the Latin word for "ocean.")
- The first baby born in Plimoth was Peregrine White. Peregrine means "traveler."
- 102 Mayflower passengers arrived in Massachusetts in the fall of 1620. A year later, only 53 had survived. The survivors included 4 married women, 5 teenage girls, 9 teenage boys, 13 young children, and 22 men. The older children played an important role during the dark days. They gathered food and water, nursed the sick, and cared for the younger children.
- At the first Thanksgivng meal, the Pilgrims served duck, goose, eels, lobster, and succotash (made of stewed chicken, beans, and corn). The Wampanoag men contributed five deer.
Perhaps you can share some of these tidbits with the children in your care, whether in school or at home, and please consider reading some of the wonderful books suggested above.
QUOTE OF THE SEASON: "The more you practice the art of thankfulness, the more you have to be thankful for." Norman Vincent Peale
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