“Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, [we] fell upon [our] knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought [us] over the vast and furious ocean.”
– William Bradford
As I scrolled through my Facebook timeline this morning, It felt like I was reading the same post a thousand times over again. Not to discredit the lovely posts about being thankful for family and friends this year, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of posts acknowledging what the first Thanksgiving was really about. I’ll be the first to admit it, the past few days I’ve been the scrooge of Thanksgiving, grumbling and pouting as a result of the random snowstorm that ruined my plans to go home and the hours of traffic I dread sitting in.
I went outside to shovel the snow, and it transformed into more of a meditative moment. I began to think of my many ancestors whom I’ve tracked back to Plymouth, and the Native Americans to which I feel a deep soul connection. Within minutes, my thoughts about my current situation transformed. I’ve learned so much by identifying some of my ancestors. Tracing my roots and putting names and stories together has made history so much more ‘real’ to me.
The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of many important things that seem to have been easily forgotten today. Yes, the Pilgrims were thankful for family, but among many other things! They had left Holland, the Netherlands, and England in search of religious freedom- something we tend to take for granted today. The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag were two very different groups of people, but that first Thanksgiving they came together in PEACE.
Instead of fighting over differences they taught each other how to survive and prosper. Coming together in love and peace contributed to their prosperity…one they celebrated and gave thanks for. (If only that concept was one that stuck!)
I started to feel gratitude for the simple things, including the snow. I could sit here and be annoyed that it ruined my plans, but to put it in perspective, the cold weather caused the death of so many people. I can’t imagine not having a warm house to live in, filled with food, clothes and electricity. I became thankful for the concept of dealing with traffic; I’ll take a populated nation and a car over a dying population and a leaky ship any day! I thought about the 50% of the first settlers, and thousands of Native Americans who died of disease in the 1600’s. We have medicine to give thanks for too!
Just like everyone else, I’m thankful for my family and friends this year. I’m also thankful for my ancestors, who were brave enough to come to America in search of freedom. I know for sure that my ancestors who have gone before me inspired my thoughts today, helping me put into perspective what this day (and every day) is really about. I love football and Black Friday as much as the next person, but its so much more important to take those things out of the equation and remember. Remember why the Pilgrims and Native Americans gave thanks in the first place. Take it further than just posting a Facebook status or a tweet. Celebrate and promote peace. Learn from others and share your gifts with them too. See how many ways your life begins to prosper.
“And God be praised we had a good increase… Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
Edward Winslow, Mourt’s Relation: D.B. Heath, ed. Applewood Books. Cambridge, 1986. p 82
The Unconventional Things I’m Thankful For this Thanksgiving