The First Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Many today with have family and friends over to share a meal and most likely some football!! A day many are off work. Some traveled great distances to celebrate this Thanksgiving 2018. I, myself, traveled from Florida to Ohio. My family is small and we will be going to a restaurant for our meal, but we will be together – laughing and talking for sure.

I remember when I was a little girl, learning of the first Thanksgiving. We were taught about the ‘colonists’ who were known as Pilgrims. It was in Plymouth. I did not realize at such a young age how brave these travelers were. They left the only home they knew to travel for sixty-six days across a great sea that they may not have made it across. When they did land in America, the land was not welcoming. There were undeveloped areas and some inhospitable people here. They were cold and overcome with disease and loss.

Some Indians were hospitable and taught the newcomers to cultivate corn and make maple syrup. They shared their knowledge and helped them become a part of a new world. I understand our very first Thanksgiving was held by Pilgrims in Wampanoag – no doubt an Indian name – in the Autumn of 1621. This area is now Massachusettes. This day was shared by Pilgrims and the Indians who helped them survive and flourish.

It was not originally a celebration, but a time of prayer. Prayer that allowed the Pilgrims to enjoy their first successful harvest. I cry as I think of how they trusted their God to bless them in this strange and dangerous land. They worked and prayed and when God answered, they were thankful.

In 1863, amid all the goings on with the Civil War, President Lincoln declared the day a National Holiday – again as a day of prayer. President Lincoln stated in a proclamation to all Americans to ask God to ‘commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, and sufferers in the lamentable civil strife’ and the ‘heal the wounds of the nation.’ Perhaps we need the same prayer today.

Today, many will celebrate with turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie. They will eat so much they will not be able to leave the couch for a while. Not only do I want to enjoy the celebration of the day to give Thanks, but I want to always remember God has blessed me in every way. He has not blessed me to then turn around and think I no longer need Him and no longer need to humble myself to remember all the ways He has produced ‘harvest’ in my life.

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