The first Thanksgiving day
The Pilgrims fled from England, persecuted for their faith,
and went to Holland, far from the reforms of King Henry the VIII.
They found religious freedom there, but soon they would depart,
because their children talked and lived like Dutch, which broke their parents’ hearts.
They boarded the ship, Mayflower, toward freedom o’er the sea.
On the 66-day journey, one went to eternity.
Though one was gone, two boys were born… to everyone’s delight;
first Oceanus Hopkins and little Peregrine White.
At long last Mayflower anchored in the Massachusetts Bay;
but one thing must take place before the Pilgrims all would stay.
They wrote some rules and agreed to submit to rulers they would choose.
It was known as the Mayflower Compact, a government they’d use.
By Plymouth Rock they disembarked; they struggled to survive;
til Native American, Samoset, from the woods arrived.
None could speak the other’s tongue! They didn’t know what to do!
But Samoset brought Squanto, who taught them a thing or two.
This is Thanksgiving Day’s history,
A day they gave thanks with their family.
Squanto was a traveler from the Abenaki Tribe;
he’d spent some time in England and knew how to transcribe.*
Their new friend taught them many things….what berries they could eat.
They learned to plant corn with a fish, to hunt for deer and meat.
Squanto introduced the Pilgrims to Wampanoag Chief Massasoit.
They made a peace treaty that lasted until the rule of Metacomet.
Pilgrim leader, William Bradford, wrote of Squanto with elation:
“a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation.”
In 1620 one hundred two Pilgrims had arrived,
but by fall of 1621, less than half were still alive,
But those that lived were all so very grateful they’d survived
that they invited Wampanoags to a 3-day harvest jive.
William Bradford wrote about it, and Edward Winslow, too;
and that is how we know the Thanksgiving story is true:
That the Pilgrims had invited people from the First Nations
to the very first Thanksgiving’s harvest celebration.
They ate deer, eel, lobster, clams, mussels, duck, and turkey….
goose, squash, pumpkin, corn, onions, turnips, and parsley….
sage, carrots, lettuce, oats, blueberries, and cranberries.
The feast they shared Thanksgiving Day was just extraordinary!
The 1621 banquet was quite the celebration;
Pilgrims and Wampanoag shared with great appreciation.
George Washington decreed to all in 1789
a national Thanksgiving Day from Maine to the Georgia line.
The years passed by with occasional feasts until 1863,
when Lincoln made the day a national holiday annually.
The President said it would take place one day every year,
the last Thursday in November from city to frontier.
In 1939 Thanksgiving came a week too early.
Roosevelt thought it wise, but it caused quite a controversy.
He hoped the extra week of holiday shopping would bring new market highs,
but it failed to boost the economy and made people criticize.
So in 1941, he reversed his declaration,
so now the last Thursday in November brings Thanksgiving vacation!
We’re thankful for our homes, our friends, our relatives and food.
So let’s spend the day with thankful hearts and life-long gratitude.