THANKSGIVING 2016

first-thanksgiving1Winter has arrived in America and that means Thanksgiving is near.  The chill from the wind rolls across the country as the last leaves on the trees stubbornly try to resist their fall to the ground.  The first hints of snow is in the air, and the memory of the past summer is behind us.  The sky is filled with heavy clouds that fight with the sun for dominance over the earth.

Our animal friends have finished gathering their food for the winter, and the birds have left for their winter homes in the south.  Yes, Thanksgiving is upon us, and I am going to paint a different picture than we are accustomed to seeing.

THE FIRST THANKSGIVING

The history of the first thanksgiving is far from the stories we celebrate today.  The original settlers left England to escape and break away from the Church of England.  Surprisingly, they did not come to the New World.  They went to Holland.  After spending 10 years there, they decided to leave and travel to the New World because they did not prosper financially in Holland.  They just could not adapt to the local Holland customs and environment.  They raised funds from the local merchants to finance the trip.  The Mayflower was packed with 101 men, women and children English Protestants who landed in Massachusetts in 1621 after a 66 day trip.  The group originally was supposed to land in what is now New York.  They hit the New England shore instead.  there they established a colony where they could practice religion as they chose.

There were many native American tribes in the area.  They  all fell under a group called Wampanoag, which covered Massachusetts and Rhode Island.   Their leader, Samoset, knew English from dealing with other settlers in the past.  After he was assured that the new arrivals were friendly, he taught the immigrants how to grow corn and other vegetables and to fertilize the soil with ground up fish.  The tribes entered an agreement with the settlers in March of 1621 to provide protection for each other against outside tribes.  The groups shared customs with each other.  Both groups benefitted from the arrangement.

Unfortunately, the peace agreement only lasted one generation.  After the original treaty makers passed away, the next generation on both sides lost their faith in the other.  But that is another story.

In 1623, after the fall harvest, the settlers decided to hold a fall feast to celebrate a successful crop.  They came together for what we call the first Thanksgiving.  You have to understand what the settlers had gone through.  As they tried things using the trial and error method, they suffered from their mistakes.  The New England winters were harsh.  Their food supplies were limited.

That first Thanksgiving meal was no resemblance to the meal we celebrate today.  That first feast consisted of deer, and other game they killed, trapped or captured, corn and other vegetables they grew, and fish and shellfish caught along the coast.

THANKSGIVING 2016

Now let’s fast forward 400 years to the present time.  We have grown from a land consisting of a few scattered settlements to a nation with interlocking infrastructure.  We have developed into a nation greater than it various parts.

America is the moral compass of the world.  We continue to fight for what is right and just.  Our experiment with freedom has been copied around the planet by other nations that look at us with envy.

We have an economy that is currently stagnant.  Our military is less than it has been in almost 100 years.  We no longer lead the world.  Our nation has just gone through a very bitter election.  America is split on which way to go.  Although there are those who oppose the incoming Administration on every issue, and are willing to tear our society apart to make sure the new team does not succeed, America will have a peaceful transition.  We will all benefit if the new Administration is successful.

Our current Thanksgiving is time spent together as family.  Beside the meal, we gather together and catch up on our lives, families and just enjoy ourselves.  It is also a day of booze and football.  Those are new traditions that swept through the country.  It’s nice to spend a day just enjoying each others company.  The world problems will still be there on Friday.  But on Thanksgiving, we have a different message.  Let’s spend time together celebrating what God has given us.

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