“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and featured, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor and upon the captain and others.” – Edward Winslow, 1621, first hand account of the first Thanksgiving
I hope you can glean wisdom from the original account of the first American Thanksgiving celebration. It is significant to note that a large contingent of “Indians” came peacefully into the plantation of the British colonial settlement, brought in their own natural food gifts to present to the feast, and in the colonist’s food and labors, in peace, united in a celebration. This group also ate a disproportionate amount of natural meat- not a wimpy vegetarian-only dinner- and spent days celebrating the goodness of God’s blessing on them (this reference came before this passage).
This blessing came from harvesting not just the fruit of their labors that the colonists gathered in (including corn), but also a great store of hunted meat that came through the blessing of God. We can see from this first hand account that hunters were blessed by God and that when they showed great generosity, they were given much more than they could contain for a short celebration, prompting a continuation of feasting.
The practice of celebrating “the thanksgiving” was not set yearly, and one wonders just how different the story of American history would have been if they had continued this celebration of thanksgiving. One might even wonder if the native tribes and colonialists, including those following them, would have become a greater, more peaceful society, averting the slaughter of so many men, women, and children over the next three hundred years.
I learned something new today; or, you could say I remembered something I once knew. It is good to return to first-hand accounts of those days we celebrate, reading the actual accounts of those involved that instigated the holiday, and discovering meaning from that, rather than a storehouse of opinions from a vast, diverse crowd with no real understanding of the holiday’s original intention.
I ask you to reflect on this first hand account. How is this different or similar to your own idea of Thanksgiving?
What do you think?