I have been looking for an idea to help make Thanksgiving more meaningful for our family this year. Something that would help us be more focused on all that we have to be thankful for. After all, isn’t that supposed to be the purpose of Thanksgiving? I recently came across a wonderful idea that I just loved and think is worth sharing from Family Life Today: http://www.familylife.com/site/apps/nl/content3.asp?c=dnJHKLNnFoG&b=3584679&ct=4889583
Before your family sits down for their Thanksgiving meal, have each person write down five things for which they are thankful to God. Then place five kernels of corn, which is a reminder of the Pilgrims’ daily ration during one of their first difficult winters. As you eat, pass a basket around the table and have each person place one kernel of corn at a time into the basket and share one of the things they are thankful for and keep doing this until all 5 kernels of corn are in the basket.
Here’s a video quick drive through the history of Thanksgiving:
In this age of political correctness, I wonder how often the true Thanksgiving story is shared? Here’s a brief history of Thanksgiving in America that I enjoyed reading, from the Citizens for Community Values.
History of Thanksgiving
Cold and sick, fighting snow and sleet, a motley band of English men and women struggled through their first winter in the New World. Fewer than 50 of the 110 pilgrims and crew that had stepped off the Mayflower survived until spring.
On their own, the Pilgrims would have likely all perished their first year on the coast of New England. However, God had better plans for them. In March of 1621, a loincloth covered native stepped out of the woods and said, “Welcome” in clear English. Samoset, the chief of the Algonquins, had learned English from the fishing ships that occasionally put into the coast of Maine. A few days later he returned to the little Pilgrim village with another English speaking native named Tisquantum, also called Squanto.
Having been taken as a slave in 1605, Squanto had lived nine years in England and spoke English well. After returning to his native homeland with Captain John Smith in 1614 , Squanto was again kidnapped and taken to Spain, where he was bought by local friars and introduced to Christianity. During his absence, Squanto’s entire tribe was wiped out by a mysterious disease, so he sailed home to find himself alone in the world. He wandered until he found the Wampanoags who lived about 50 miles to the southwest. The land that had belonged to his tribe was shunned by other tribes. And so, when the Pilgrims arrived in late 1620, they settled on cleared land that belonged to nobody.
Squanto proved to be a literal God-send for the Pilgrims. He stayed with them and taught them how to stalk deer and catch eels and plant corn the Indian way. He showed them how to refine maple syrup and to discern which wild plants were edible and which were poisonous. He introduced them to trapping beavers, the pelts of which were in high demand in Europe. Without his help, few of the Pilgrims would have survived.
By the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims were well-prepared for the coming winter and extremely grateful to God, to the Wampanoags, and to Squanto. Governor Bradford declared a day of public thanksgiving to be held in October. They invited Massasoit, the Wapanoags’ chief, to a feast to celebrate their bounty.
To their surprise and concern, Massasoit brought with him 90 other warriors. These men did not come empty-handed however.
They added five deer and over a dozen wild turkeys to the Pilgrims’ fresh garden vegetables. There were days of feasting and games and competitions. The Wapanoags taught the Pilgrims the art of making popcorn and the Pilgrims introduced the Indians to fruit pies. God had shown He cared for this little band of persecuted Englishmen in search of religious and civil freedom.
That first year was not the end, however. The next year the Pilgrims, still unused to growing corn – and helping feed newcomers – ran short on food. The year after, a drought threatened to decimate all their crops. Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and prayer, and God sent the rain. To celebrate, they proclaimed November 29th to be a day of thanksgiving. The practice of celebrating a Thanksgiving Day is believed to actually have stemmed from this day of gratefulness God’s goodness and provision.
Through the years, Americans have had many things to be grateful for. Founded on the rule of Law, the nation has prospered and provided a home for many tired, poor, huddled masses “yearning to breathe free.”
There have been several days of thanksgiving since the Pilgrims’ days. In 1777, Samuel Adams made a thanksgiving day proclamation that was adopted by all 13 states; “It is therefore recommended… to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn Thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor…”
In October of 1789, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday the Twenty-sixth day of November to be a day of national thanksgiving to Almighty God. In October of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln announced that the last Thursday of November would be dedicated “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Finally, an act of Congress in 1941 dedicated the fourth Thursday of November for the purpose of thanking our Creator.
Even as our forefathers acknowledged the provision and goodness of God, let us also make this national holiday a very special time of thanksgiving! The history of Thanksgiving Day…all our national history…indeed, all history – is part of His Story – the story of His plan to redeem fallen man.
So join us in giving thanks for all His provision – for families, for friends, for country, for sustenance, and, above all, for our redemption in His Son!