Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, and our thoughts go back to the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The colonists had reason to celebrate. Their first winter in America was terrible with nearly half of the people dying. The survivors rejoiced because their situation was much different than the previous year. They understood their circumstances much better and appreciated their good corn harvest and successful hunts. Governor William Bradford decreed that December 13, 1621, would be a day for feasting and expressions of gratitude.
Harold Hansen, a professor at Brigham Young University, described the celebration: “The women of the colony spent days preparing for the feast. Foods were boiled, baked, and roasted. The children were kept very busy turning roasts on spits or iron rods in front of the open fires. More than eighty Indians attended the feast. The Indians brought wild turkeys and venison as their share. The tables were set outdoors, and all the people sat around the combined tables like one large family. Prayers, sermons, and songs of praise accompanied the feasting. Three days were devoted to the Thanksgiving, and then the Indians returned to the forests and the colonists to their toil.”
Thanksgiving is not only a time for giving thanks, but it is also a time for the gathering of family and friends and the strengthening of relationships. My family – all six children and seventeen grandchildren – are together for this Thanksgiving week, and I am grateful for this great blessing. I hope that you are gathered with your loved ones while you rejoice and thank God for your blessings. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!