Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, but shouldn’t we continue to be thankful for the blessings of this life? We say there are lots of things in life that we’re not thankful for, but should that stop us from being thankful? I once worked for a man who had a saying something like this: ‘Work is being in a constant state of discontent, interrupted occasionally by brief periods of celebration for a job well done.’
I think this comment by my old boss can actually be applied to life. Yes, life is sort of a constant state of discontent, interrupted occasionally by brief periods of celebration for a life well lived. As you know, the colonists that came to this country seeking a new life lived hard lives and endured many dangers. Some died while coming to what is now America, as they attempted to fulfill their dream.
At that first organized time of thanks in 1621, the Plymouth colonists shared a fall feast with the local Indians they connected with during their colonization of America.
As the land soon to be America continued to be colonized and organized, other groups and eventually other states celebrated times of thanksgiving on their own. This continued for a couple of centuries before President Abraham Lincoln, during the Civil War, proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
In 1620, the small ship named the Mayflower began a journey carrying about 100 passengers, as it left England. Those passengers were seeking religious freedom and the hope for prosperity in the New World.
It took the Mayflower about 66 days to cross the Atlantic and we can only imagine the dangers they encountered during this voyage. The aim of this voyage was to land near what is now New York City, but they ended up landing near Cape Cod. They missed their landing site by a few hundred miles, but were certainly glad to see land of any kind. A month later they continued across the bay to the mainland and settled in the place they called Plymouth.
It was very late fall when they first landed and they experienced a very harsh winter. Disease and overexposure to the elements burdened them and most of them stayed on board the Mayflower during this time.
As spring approached, only half of the original passengers and crew were still alive. The survivors finally left the ship and began to settle the area. They were greeted by an Indian, who surprisingly did so in English.
You may remember the Indian, Squanto, who had been captured by an English sea captain and escaped some time later. This surprised the Pilgrims, as you can imagine.
Squanto helped the Pilgrims in regaining their health and stability, by teaching them how to grow corn and other crops, and fish the local streams.
In November, at the end of their first year in America, the Colonists harvested their first corn crop and the celebration of thanks began. The relationship the Colonists had with the local Indians lasted more than 50 years. Unfortunately, it is one of the few significant positive relationships between the European settlers and the Native Americans.
The actual celebration feast lasted three days as the colonists invited the local Indians to join them. The Indians probably contributed more to the celebration than did the Pilgrims.
The Indian cooking me-thods and spices made the event very elaborate. After the celebration, it was back to work and most likely to a “state of discontent” for the Colonists as they continued to forge their way into their new life, occasionally taking time to celebrate their blessings received through their good works.