In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.
Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.
The website said they actually ate seal, lobster and swans…..
Do you see God’s hand in this story? Wow! My husband (a history buff) explained to me the other night that the “religious separatists” had actually tried very hard to help influence and change the direction of the church in England. However, after many years of effort, and no change (and a LOT of resistance and persecution from the church), they universally concluded that it was time to set sail and find another land to establish a community whose hearts were totally dedicated to the Lord. As I read the excerpt, I saw MUCH suffering. I also saw God’s amazing miracles when they reached their new home. And what did the pilgrims do? They were worn out, weak, sick, and lost many of their loved ones….and God blessed them richly and brought unexpected people to TEACH them and help SUSTAIN them in their new world. They THANKED God. They thanked him for 3 days straight! THIS is the origin of our Thanksgiving holiday. The pilgrims new what it was to suffer. And they were able to be TRULY thankful for God’s blessings. God had blessed them for their faithfulness and perseverance!
One of the greatest remedies for depression/sadness is thankfulness. When I get frustrated or feel down about something, I start thanking the Lord. In the moments of total frustration with my kids, I start telling them everything I love about them (this isn’t easy in the moment, but as I continue, my heart softens and we all end up laughing). Truly, Thanksgiving should be all throughout every day each day. This is the “fruit of our lips.” This is what we can offer God! It is the same desire we all have for OUR children. We long to give them gifts…but only if they are thankful. God longs to have a relationship with us. He longs to hear us tell Him our thanks for what He gives us. And the more thankful we are in the rough times, the more He pours His heart and blessings out to us. I have experienced this many times in a very real and intimate way. And I know you have too. It is amazing. It warms my heart when I see my little boy thanking us when I know he hasn’t really received much that day. I want to do ANYTHING for him!
My prayer for this Thanksgiving and this next year is that I can spend more time really thinking about all of God’s gifts to me each day and dwelling on how MUCH He has given me. God has enabled me to do this more and more…and I want to do it MORE. Contentment is what I desire each day…consist contentment…and JOY for what He has done for me.
Thank-you Lord for not only dying for MY sins and giving me a new life on earth and eternal life in your Presence someday, but for the ENDLESS gifts you give this needy, needy heart every day. You sustain me moment-by-moment and I am SO thankful.