A toast at the first Thanksgiving:
“Here we sit today in America, giving thanks to all that God has given us. Last year we set sail for this new land, but our boat leaked. We then fixed the leak, and set sail again, but it still leaked, and upon fixing that, we set off again. After abandoning that ship soon after the voyage, we came back to England and got a better boat, the Mayflower, the boat that would allow us to leave the oppressing, evil, and impure land of England for our new home in Virginia. We didn’t find this land called Virginia, so we instead settled here in Plymouth, which we named in honor of the town that treated us so badly back in England.
“Perhaps we were not smart to set sail for a new land in September, what with winter being only a few months away. We should have figured that there would not have been enough time to grow food, create shelter, and move out any Indian tribe that may already occupy our new home. Luckily, a small pox epidemic took care of that last worry for us by leaving us tilled fields, a few shelters, and whatnot, left behind after the last member of their tribe died. Thank God for small favors and thank you to those that secretly buried our dead during the first winter. We did not want the neighboring Indians to know that we had made a mistake coming here so late in the year, and I don’t suspect they noticed that our numbers went from over 100 to less than 60 in a matter of months.
“Thank God also for allowing our dear Indian friend Squanto to be captured by explorers several years back and used as a slave on their ships as they voyaged, exploring new worlds and teaching him the English language. This relieved us, new people coming to a strange land, from learning the native tongue. I also want to thank the people who are continually making our new colony feel like home, those that build our houses, tend our community crops, and especially those that teach the Indian children how to live and act like us. Without you we would certainly feel like strangers in a strange land.
“I see a bright future for us as we live and prosper under our own rule. We will never again have to report to some king or queen on his or her throne in England. Heck no, we are in a land of liberty where we are not judged or ruled by our fellow man. They are now thousands of miles away, and they should remain there as we sent back to England a parchment in a bottle saying, “The New Land is a haunted place, all in our crew have died, ye shall stay away!” Oh, yes, we all had a laugh.
“Now if you don’t mind let’s bow our heads for a little while in prayer before we dig in…. Good enough, let’s eat!”
And so the pilgrims ate and ate for three days, giving into the sin of gluttony. They then sewed a scarlet letter “G” to their vests so everyone would know their sin and could judge them accordingly.
Not much has changed since the first Thanksgiving. President Lincoln declared it a national observance to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November in the year 1863. The date was changed by congress in December of 1941 to the fourth Thursday because it was too close to the celebration of Christmas and stores could not switch their decorations quickly enough. Though the date change helped a little, stores gave up separating holiday sales and eventually started allowing Christmas decorations to be hung in the seasonal department as early as the second Saturday in March.
If you would like to know more of the American holiday of Thanksgiving, please consult your local library or turn on the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special (see your local television listing for time and channel). You can easily replicate a Thanksgiving meal by inviting your friends and family over to a meal of pumpkin pie, turkey, ham, and, of course, by watching lots of American football!