The 'rest of the story' of Thanksgiving

November 28, 2003

Dear Editor:

Parents, please tell your children what may not even be taught at school anymore.

The true story of the first Thanksgiving begins in 1608, when a group of Christians called Separatists, persecuted for forming a church apart from the Church of England, left their homeland to settle in Leyden, Holland. There, they found religious freedom but also poverty, grueling work and a secular culture that threatened to undo the values they had carefully instilled in their children.

After seeking guidance, under the leadership of William Bradford, they sold everything to finance their journey to America. As many of us have learned through our childhood, the Mayflower lost its course, and instead of landing in Virginia, they landed at Cape Cod, Mass. This took the Pilgrims outside the territory covered by the King's Charter; thus they were responsible for their own government. After much prayer, the Pilgrims wrote a set of laws, called The Mayflower Compact, and set off to begin their new life at the place they named Plymouth.


Half the Pilgrims died that first winter. But the survivors clung to their faith in God. That next spring, the colony literally put down roots with help of Squanto, an Indian who years before had been kidnapped and taken to England, where he had learned English and had become a Christian. Squanto taught them how to grow corn, use fertilizer, stalk deer and catch fish.

The first harvest brought plenty. In October, Governor Bradford set aside a day for everyone to thank God for meeting their needs through that arduous year. Squanto, and other members of his tribe were their guests. The Indians brought deer and turkeys, while the Pilgrim women cooked vegetables and fruit pies.

Can you imagine freezing and starving through a harsh winter, losing half our community, then lifting such joyous celebration to God? What an inspiring picture of Christian faith!

Let's remember that faith and the memory of the first Thanksgiving as we go into this holiday season. In doing so, we honor George Washington, who in 1789 proclaimed November 26th to forever be the day our nation gives thanks to our Heavenly Father, and faith-filled forefathers.

Chris Brummett


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