Thanksgiving - A different View

The members of my church seem to love food. After services, our fellowship hall is always filled with people, conversation, and lots of food. You would think that on Sundays, people would hurry home; but at our church, everyone seems to like to linger and visit.   

Claudia, my wife, was busy sharing Thanksgiving plans with the people at our table. 
Julie sat at Claudia's table; she was a very striking lady in her early twenties, a graduate student with a specialty in American History. She had long black hair and dark eyes. "You do know the real story about Thanksgiving don't you?" asked Julie.
My wife, responded: "Sure; in 1621 the Indian Squanto saved the entire Plymouth colony by teaching them how to farm and how to survive. The Pilgrims had a good harvest and they invited Squanto and local Indian tribes to a big three day feast."
Julie smiled. "That's all true, it all happened, but a number of other things happened before and after that first Thanksgiving."

"I know that 40% of the Plymouth colony died during their first winter before Squanto found them," responded Claudia.

Julie nibbled a cookie. "They did, and they were lucky to have met Squanto. Poor Squanto was kidnapped by the English in 1605 and it wasn't until 9 years later that he was finally able to make his way home. When he got home he found out that most of his tribe had been sold into slavery, and the ones who weren't sold, died from smallpox. He was the last of his tribe."

Julie continued. "Squanto brokered a peace treaty between the Pequot Tribe and the Pilgrims. They had a three-day feast and the local natives supplied most of the food.
Word got back to England about how wonderful Plymouth was, and Puritans began arriving by the boat load."

Julie looked intently at a lady sitting next to my wife and said: "You know that those Puritans weren't all that nice either."

The lady said "Huh?"

"The Puritans weren't all that nice," repeated Julie. "They were responsible for a civil insurrection in England where they eventually disbanded Parliament and established Oliver Cromwell as a military dictator. You can read about the Puritan uprising in any good European history book."

I was surprised to see my wife nod in agreement. "Cromwell ruled England as an absolute Dictator for about seven years. He died of natural causes, but people didn't like him. They dug him up about three years after his death, hung his corpse and then cut off its head. Cromwell's head adorned a spike on Westminster Hall for about 25 years."

Julie continued with her "Thanksgiving" story: "The new Puritans who began arriving in James Town seized land, captured strong young natives for slaves, and killed anyone who got in their way. The Pequot Nation didn't take this breach of the peace lightly and fought back. The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.  According to scholars the "Godly" Puritans killed anyone who they couldn't enslave. In 1637 near Gronton Connecticut, they killed over 700 unarmed Pequot men, women and children. The next day the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared 'A day of Thanksgiving' because of this great victory over unarmed natives.

The Governors' Thanksgiving declaration served as an encouragement for more killings, more slaughter and enslavement of Native Americans. Even friendly tribes didn't escape their killing frenzy. The Chief of the friendly Wampanoag tribe was beheaded and his head was impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where it (like Cromwells head) remained on display for 24 years."

Claudia looked at her empty coffee cup and asked: "Did they celebrate thanksgiving?"
Julie's eyes sparkled. "Oh yes they did. They would hold a Thanksgiving feast after every successful massacre."

I had to speak up "I recall reading that George Washington finally suggested that we should only celebrate one day of Thanksgiving a year, instead of having one after each massacre. I also remember reading something to the effect that President Thomas Jefferson did not think it proper for the President to give a thanksgiving proclamation since he seemed to think it would involve government meddling with religious institutions."

Julie laughed. "This does give you a warm fuzzy feeling about Thanksgiving doesn't it?"

Claudia shook her head. "I still have a good feeling about Thanksgiving. People in the past may have abused this celebration by using it for their own selfish purposes, but we will always have reasons to give thanks.

The origin of a Thanksgiving celebration goes back to the very beginning of humanity. Our American Thanksgiving celebration has Hebrew roots. The Jews celebrated and still celebrate a Festival of Booths (
Sukkot) a feast of thanksgiving as described in Leviticus [16:15].

Thanksgiving is a good thing. In this day and age, people, and families are often separated by distance and circumstance. Our lives often seem too busy or too filed with other diversions for us to spend time with each other. Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to formally gather together and show appreciation for all the blessings that God has given us. I can think of nothing better than a gathering with friends, and family. A time when we can all sit together, visit and offer thanks to our Creator for all things good. I am glad that we now have a National Holiday. I am very thankful for Thanksgiving."

Everyone loves food and friendship, and I am sure that we all have something for which we can give thanks. Please allow me to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving time. 


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