Tuesday, November 20, 2007


In grade school, we always looked forward to Thanksgiving. We made new decorations to take the place of the construction paper witches, black cats, and jack-o’-lanterns that held places of importance on the walls and windows a month earlier. Now we traced or drew, and cut out Pilgrims, corn shocks, pumpkins, and turkeys. And we looked forward to a day or two off from school.
Thanksgiving is nicely spaced, about midway between Halloween and Christmas. And looking forward to “Turkey Day” kind of helped to break up the dull fall season. President Roosevelt once tried to change the date, and have us celebrate the great autumn feast earlier in order to give the turkey producers a longer season to prepare and distribute their products for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the majority of the people wouldn’t stand still for that. So we still do our celebrating on the last Thursday of November. At least here in the US, but in Canada it is celebrated earlier.
Our schoolbooks told us that turkey is the main item on many people’s Thanksgiving dinner table, but a lot of us had never tasted the big bird. Most farms produced their own chicken, pork, and beef. Some also had ducks and geese, but back in those days, turkeys were difficult to raise. And, as a scarce item, the big birds were a real luxury food, and expensive to buy in the stores and meat markets.
We all seemed to enjoy learning as much as we could about the first Thanksgiving. As farm and small town children we could identify with the Pilgrims and their efforts to make a living off the strange, harsh land. And we saw the pictures of their Native American neighbors coming to that first celebration, carrying deer and wild turkeys they had stalked and killed and brought along as their contribution to the menu.
We learned of the Pilgrims hardships during those first years. And how the friendly Indians shared their seed corn with them and taught them how to grow, harvest, store, and use the crop. We were told that without the new corn, the people and the colonies would most likely not have survived.
The warm, happy story of people with such different backgrounds working together, and then joining to feast and celebrate and thank God for their success always caught and held our interest. And helped make us all feel thankful for our blessings.


We thank you, Lord,
For this great land,
For rolling plains
And mountains grand,

For fields, and strong
Farmers who toil,
For crops that thrive
On fertile soil.

For working men
And women who
Take great pride in
The work they do.

For colleges,
Teachers, and schools,
Officials who
Enforce our rules.

For our leaders,
Many whose strong
Efforts move our
Country along.

For those who at
An earlier date
Led the way, made
This country great.

Pilgrims, Indians,
Who, hand-in-hand,
Paved the way for
This day so grand,

Their efforts, at
That early stage,
Purchased for us
Our heritage.

Thank You, for all
Who’ve shaped our land,
Devout clergy,
Great churches, and

Men and women
Marching in ranks.
For all of these,
We give Thee thanks.