Day #53- Day of Thanks

November 22, 2012 61 Days of Fall  No comments

The day of Thanksgiving is here.  Have you prepared enough?  Who are you spending it with?

My family has been invited over to a dear friend’s house. I’m very much looking forward to it as I know how wonderful this mother-daughter team is whenever they are entertaining.  When they invited me, I asked what I could bring and she said, “If your family has a tradition of any kind, bring a dish from that.”

As I ruminated on our traditions, it was fun to remember all that my family has done consistently year after year on Thanksgiving.  The cherry cheesecake pie my dad always insists is there, the homemade rolls my sisters always make, the decadent mashed potatoes my brother always brings, and the multitudes of friends and family as each little family grows each year.  There are tables set up in the dining room, the living room, and sometimes, if the California weather allows, outside tables are set up as well with umbrella lights, allowing the conversation to go uninterrupted way into the night .

Our Thanksgivings were always the same as we sat down to eat.  We would all be starving, but knew we couldn’t eat until a few traditions were held.  We always found 5 kernels of popcorn on our empty plate, to which my mom would tell us the story of the first Thanksgiving (I will re-tell this story below), one we had heard year after year.

When we were younger, some would have a bad attitude about it, but as we have grown, we share this story year after year with our own growing families, as well as friends who we are sharing a Thanksgiving table with that year.

After the story, we would take turns around the table, each sharing one thing they were grateful for (you can imagine how long this would take if there were many in attendance), and then sharing a toast of Sparkling Apple Cider, clinking glasses celebrating our abundance.  My family would then pray, thanking God for all that we had been given, and then begin the most wonderful feast of the year.

After remembering these traditions, I laughed as I remembered the year my younger brother, Harrison, only five-years-old, adorned in his homemade paper pilgrim top hat with brown paper bag bib, handed each of us a copy of his kindergarten’s rendition of “The Pilgrims are Coming to Celebrate,” along with nine more verses (sung to the tune of “The Ants Go Marching One by One“).  We all started laughing as he was the youngest of 8 children and some of us were quite a bit older, partly laughing because of the silly-ness of the song, and partly because he was so darn cute.  My heart hurts every time I revisit this memory, seeing his face looking so hurt. He didn’t understand why we were laughing and thought we had been teasing him (not an uncommon occurrence in such a large family).  He had been so excited to share it with us.  So of course, after seeing his emotions over this song, we all joined in singing all ten verses. I regretted not knowing where my copy of his song was because I had kept it for so many years. I made note to find it very soon.  I never want to lose that memory.

I was brought out of my thoughts knowing what traditions I would bring to our friends’ Thanksgiving feast.  I smiled knowing that I would be passing on one of my own family’s traditions. And even though I had been a little sad knowing I was away from my own family, I knew I was spending Thanksgiving exactly where I needed to be.

-Christy Pethel
***Song LyricsUnfortunately when trying to find the original lyrics, I couldn’t find the song with all the verses.  I only found these two.  Enjoy.

Sung to: “The Ants go Marching One by One
The pilgrims are coming to celebrate, Hurrah, hurrah
The pilgrims are coming to celebrate, Hurrah, hurrah
The pilgrims are coming so don’t be late
They’ll sing and dance to celebrate
And we’ll all have fun, so hurry and don’t be late.

Substitute the following lines:
The Natives are coming to share their food
The children are coming to play some games
The mothers are coming to cook the food
The fathers are coming to trade their goods


***Thanksgiving Story:  As I was popping the popcorn to take with me that night, I wanted to make sure I had my facts straight.  I searched around the internet and this site was the one I felt was the most precise, while being short and sweet.  I’ve copied and pasted directly from their page.

     On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower dropped anchor in a natural harbor on the inside of the northern tip of Cape Cod. There it stayed. The location was not the Pilgrims’ first choice; they had planned to settle near the mouth of the Hudson.

The area where the ship made landfall had belonged to the Patuxets, a fierce tribe that took intense delight in murdering anyone who would dare invade their territory. A sickness, however, had wiped them out, leaving their land free for the taking. (Other Indians, fearing “bad spirits,” would have no part of it.) The Pilgrims didn’t even have to clear fields for planting. They were already there for them.

The nearest neighbors were the Wampanoags, a civilized tribe ruled by Massasoit. The chief and his people accepted the Pilgrims and helped them. Squanto, a lone survivor of the Patuxets, made his home with this new inhabitants and taught them how to survive in this new and challenging land.

Although the bounty of the summer of 1621 brought a time of heartfelt gratitude (the first Thanskgiving), the Pilgrims’ obligation to repay the backers who had financed their voyage left them dangerously close to starvation. Food stores had all but disappeared.

At one point, a daily ration of food for a Pilgrim was 5 kernels of corn. With a simple faith that God would sustain them, no matter what, they pulled through. History records that not a single one of them died from starvation that winter. Not a one.

The harvest of 1623 brought a surplus of corn, so much that the Pilgrims were able to help out the Indians for a change. So joyous were they that they celebrated a second Day of Thanksgiving and again invited Massasoit to be their guest.

He came, bringing with him his wife, several other chiefs and 120 braves. All sat down to a feast of 12 venison, 6 goats, 50 hogs and pigs, numerous turkeys, vegetables, grapes, nuts, plums, puddings and pies. But, lest anyone forget, all were given their first course on an empty plate.

They were each given 5 kernels of corn.

The original source of the material was Marshall and Manuel’s book, The Light and the Glory (Fleming H. Revell, 1977). They did substantial research on the material included in the book. Often, they were allowed to access documents and journals not readily available to the public.