Upon scanning any newspaper in any US city, it’s clear that we live in a hyper-partisan country, but today we pause to join with family and friends—regardless of their beliefs—to be grateful for what we have. There was also partisanship in this land at the first Thanksgiving, but the camaraderie of diverse parties made it possible.
The Mayflower Pilgrims who sailed to the New World in 1620 were Christians who had fled England because of religious intolerance. The voyage was difficult. The first winter in the New World was dire. Nearly half of the Pilgrims died, and the survivors debated returning to England. Then one afternoon, while Captain Miles Standish was contemplating defense plans in the event of an Indian attack, Samoset, an Indian, came to them. He wanted to help, and was able to converse in broken English he had learned from a British sea captain who made an earlier trip. Samoset told them of Squanto, another Indian, who spoke English well.
Governor William Bradford explained in his memoir, “Of Plymouth Plantation,” that Squanto had been kidnapped, brought to England, and sold into slavery, but he was rescued, educated, and taken home. Squanto taught the Pilgrims farming, fishing, and how to make peace with local Indian tribes. In the fall of 1621, they reaped a bountiful harvest. In gratitude, they invited the Indians to a three-day feast and thanked God, Samoset, and Squanto. They did not believe that those Indians came to their rescue by accident.
Squanto died from a fever in 1622, and, as Governor Bradford wrote, gave all his possessions to the Pilgrims “as remembrances of his love.” Squanto could have been bitter over what happened to him. He could have withheld his help and even incited war between the Indians and Pilgrims. Instead, he buried the wrongs some Englishmen had committed against him, was thankful for his blessings, and helped them.
Despite the strong differences of opinion in our country, we can be thankful for having the longest enduring nation of free men and women governing themselves, and the potential to create an even greater nation than we have ever been. Everyone faces hard times, but everyone has experiences to be thankful for, and many of them come from others, just as the Pilgrims’ blessings came from the Indians.
There are many things that I am thankful for. One of them is Thanksgiving. Another is all of you!
Adorable Pics! I can see you’ve always been loving and fun.