Archive for November, 2007


The Pilgrims settled at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. Weakened by the seven-week crossing and the need to establish housing, they came down with pneumonia and consumption. They began to die — one per day, then two, and sometimes three. They dug the graves at night, so that the Indians would not see how their numbers were dwindling. At one point, there were only seven persons able to fetch wood, make fires, and care for the sick. By the spring, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower.

The Pilgrims obviously needed help and it came from an English-speaking member of the Wampanoag nation, Squanto. Squanto decided to stay with the Pilgrims for the next few months and teach them how to survive. He brought them food and skins, taught them how to cultivate new vegetables and how to build Indian-style houses. He educated the Pilgrims on poisonous plants, medicine, how to get sap from the maple trees, use fish for fertilizer, and dozens of other skills needed for their survival.

The harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one and the remaining colonists decided to celebrate in thanksgiving to God, in prayer and with a feast. They invited Squanto and the leader of the Wampanoags, Massasoit, to bring their immediate families to dine with them. The Pilgrims had no idea how large Indian families could be and Squanto and Massasoit arrived accompanied by 90 relatives. The feast lasted three days. The Pilgrims and Indians ate outdoors at large tables and also competed together in various games.

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

by Brian F. King

O Lord, with humble hearts we pray
Thy blessing this Thanksgiving Day
And ask that at table place,
Where grateful folk say words of grace,
That Thou will come to share the yield
Thy bounty gave to farm and field.
We pray thy love will bless, O Lord,
Each hearth, each home, each festive board;
And that Thy peace will come to stay
Where candles glow, Thanksgiving Day

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