What do you think of on Thanksgiving? Food, family, football, parades, television, or just relaxation from a day off from work (well maybe some of us have to work). The tradition of Thanksgiving is rich with history of our homeland. We know from history that the Mayflower set off from England in 1620 and landed on Cape Cod a couple of months later with 102 of our forefathers. Within the first winter, some 50 people of the original crew died, yet the remaining individuals decided to celebrate the first Thanksgiving which occurred sometime during the fall/winter of 1621. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the colonists along with some 90 Wampanoag Indians who helped them survive the brutal ruggedness of the land. Much of this history is recorded in Governor William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation. As I think about the pilgrim's enthusiasm to start a new life in the New World only to struggle to survive during their first year, what held them together in order to express a celebration of thankfulness? Holidays can bring forth both celebration and sadness. It is a time to spend with family, yet it is also a time of reflection. How will you spend your time over the holiday season?
Many of us know the words of America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates:
O BEAUTIFUL for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
But do you know the words of the second stanza:
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Those stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
Be strong, Pilgrim!