The celebration that took place in the autumn of 1621, between the Native Americans and the Puritan settlers who had arrived on the Mayflower, looked drastically different that the feast we will be celebrating today. This “first Thanksgiving” as we learn in grade-school, was not so much a holiday as it was a gathering of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and the help of their neighbors, the Native Americans. The celebration lasted three days, three days of feasting and giving thanks for their fortune.
Their supply of flour and sugar had been depleted, so there was no pumpkin pie or pound cake. (gasp) They did not have domesticated animals to gather milk or butter from, and potatoes were still considered poisonous to Europeans at the time. Turkey might have been on the menu, but it is hard to tell because they referred to any sort of wild fowl as turkey. There was definitely venison and possibly some wild duck and goose. Other additions to the menu were lobster, wild plums, dried fruit, watercress, berries, clams, and fish. I don’t know about you, but I’d take a lobster and wild plum dinner ANY day over some turkey and dressing!
Before we get all caught up in the menu, as I often do, I want to focus on the reason behind their celebration. After a devastating winter, the settlers had lost 46 of the 102 who originally sailed on the Mayflower. Making it through another winter would have been increasingly difficult after they’d depleted all of the resources they brought with them. Although they did have a governing system in the Mayflower Compact, they did not have the knowledge and tools to survive otherwise. Had the Wampanoag not reached out to help and share with the settlers, or had the settlers come after the Natives as if they were enemies, the Puritan settlement would never had made it through the second winter.
So, who has helped you this year? Would you make it through another winter without the support and encouragement of your family and friends? I would not. Today I am thankful for my husband, as his continuous generosity and support allow me to work toward my goals and enjoy everyday along the journey. I am thankful for my father and mother who taught me to be courageous, passionate, and most importantly, to use common sense. I am thankful for a great relationship with my in-laws and that I look forward to their visits! I am thankful for my siblings and to be able to call my two sisters and three brothers my very best friends. I am thankful for an wonderful job and co-workers that make work fun and constantly interesting. Today I am just ELATED to be healthy, happy, and surrounded by people I love! Happy Thanksgiving to you!