“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”- H.U. Westermayer
1) An expression of gratitude. Especially to God.
2) In North America an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621.
My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are all surrounded by family. Big meals. Lots of laughter. Lots of dishes to wash. As a child my younger cousins and I had to do the dishes. I hated it then, but would love to be back and spend a moment with all of them now.
My first Thanksgiving away from home was when I went to college. My freshman year was extremely difficult for me anyway, and being away from my family just made me more lonely. Remember, times were different then. We had to wait in line to be able to use the phone and I had to save my quarters to be able to call home. Even five minutes on the phone was priceless.
I’ll never forget that weekend. At the college I went to-Thanksgiving was more about the prospective students that visited on that weekend. We still had classes on Fridays so that the guests could get a true picture of what the school was about. Thanksgiving was a pretty big deal. We had a big meal that was so good in later years my parents would come down to visit just to eat there. There was always a big soccer game between rival societies. It was called The Turkey Bowl. The stands would be packed and many alumni would come from all around to watch this game. In fact, for many years after we graduated it became a tradition for us to spend Thanksgiving at that school. Wonderful traditions and memories that I am able to treasure. Unfortunately, this year just isn’t going to look like either of those scenarios.
I, you, still have so much to be thankful for. It’s been a rough year. Yes. But our freedoms and joys are still too numerous to count. Let’s start at the first Thanksgiving.
Do you remember your history lessons?
In September of 1620, about 100 people left England on the Mayflower, most of them in search of religious freedom in the New World. After two months the ship landed in what is currently called Massachusetts. In December, a scouting party landed at Plymouth. We now call these people, Pilgrims.
The journey was not smooth sailing and they were plagued with storms. The trouble wasn’t only on the water, but also on board as quarrels and disagreements began before the passengers disembarked. The Pilgrims knew that they needed to do something before each person would be on their own so they wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact.
During the first winter the new colonists would live on the Mayflower as they built their new homes on shore.
MORE THAN HALF THE SETTLERS DIED DURING THAT WINTER.
Life in this new world was difficult. The winter was harsh and they didn’t have the means to eat properly.
Thankfully, Squanto, a Native American, befriended the settlers. He and his Pawtuxet tribe taught them how to plant corn and fish and hunt.
In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims shared a harvest meal with this tribe. We consider this the First Thanksgiving.
I would love to think of that celebration innocently, but I’m sure it wasn’t the picturesque painting that we see. Perhaps we can learn from the past and apply the lessons to our present and future.
1) Thanksgiving. A time of hope. The Pilgrims left England in search of a new beginning. They experienced sickness, starvation and death, but by listening to the Native Americans they were taught how to survive. God sent help.
There is a letter written by Edward Winslow that says, “God be Praised.”
2) Praise God. We should be practicing this habit daily, but especially at Thanksgiving we should stop and give praise to our Almighty Father. Yes, life isn’t always pleasant. We don’t always receive what we want. There may be times of “starvation.” Our faith should rest in the fact that our God is still on the throne. None of this is a surprise to Him. And He loves you and cares for you more than you can ever know. I keep repeating this, but if the hairs on your head are numbered how can he not be caring for you? I mean, that fact alone means He is taking care of me constantly!
3) Stop making enemies out of people who are different than you. Just like the settlers and the Pawtuxet tribe, don’t be afraid of them. Instead, embrace them and learn what we can from each other. The same holds true for believers. I find that we fight against each other more than learn from each other. In fact, the devil doesn’t have to work very hard to destroy us…we do that quite well on our own.
4) Tomorrow is a new day. There is an old song, “I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.” God promises, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” God gave the people in the wilderness the manna they needed for that day. Cling to those promises today and know that tomorrow is coming.
I don’t know how you celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. Chances are many of you altered your plans or maybe canceled them all together. You might feel bitterness or depression or emotions we aren’t used to feeling on a day set apart to give thanks. As we look back at our year there has been death, poverty, disagreements, loss, grief. At first thought you might think…what is there to be thankful for?
My friend, so much.
Can you add to my list?
3. A God who loves and provides a way of salvation
4. Friends and family
6. Books and history
7. and so much more.
What are the things you are thankful for?I can’t wait to hear about your Thanksgiving! Until next time! This is just me–talking to you–from the wings.
When I was in third or fourth grade I read a book that I will never forget. The Diary of Anne Frank captured my attention in a way that no other book has ever done. The idea that a girl (who was not much older that I was at that time) could write so proficiently and express her thoughts in such a spell-binding manner was fascinating. For those of you who don’t know, Anne Frank went into hiding with her family in 1943. She was only thirteen. Her crime? She was Jewish.
I didn’t understand how anyone could treat another human so terribly. How could one possibly live in such a tight space, dependent fully on the help of outsiders who put their lives on the line day after day? Yet this girl said something that is life changing.
“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
She was positive, joyful and dreamed that her writing would change the world. It did.
Flash forward to 1976. My husband had the privilege of playing Peter Van Daan in a University production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Flash forward another twenty years and my daughter played Mrs. Van Daan in a production I directed at her high school. Another six years pass and my oldest daughter directs a production of “Diary” at the same University that Chuck portrayed Peter all those years before.
And now, I have checked a dream role off of my bucket list. For one more weekend I get to step out on that stage of become “Mrs Van Daan.”
She’s not the lead, but I think she is fascinating. She is insecure, flirty, frightened, industrious and loving. She is the most complicated character I have ever played and I have loved every second.
In the play you see Mrs. Van Daan through the eyes of a thirteen year old girl. I can only imagine what my daughter’s diary might have said about me at times she was angry with me. The point? The writings give us a unique view into the secret annex, but we must remember Anne’s writings were Anne’s thoughts and expressed honestly through Annes’ emotions.
In talking about the personality of Mrs Van Daan I began to realize that at the core of her personality were all the traits Anne writes about, but there must be something that drives her to act the way she does. I chose insecurity and love--those traits are at the root of every reaction she has.
Did you know? She was born in 1900 in Germany. She had three siblings: Gertrude, Lotte, and Gretta. It was Anne who gave her the name of Mrs Van Daan as a code name, as she did everyone one in the diary, in case the diary was ever discovered it would protect those she wrote about. Her real name was Auguste van Pels.
She was real. She lived, loved, laugh, feared and hoped. Much like 6 million other Jews that we may not know anything about. This play is for everyone that died during that horrible time in our history. May we never forget.
I am thankful for a young girl who decided that writing her story was important. I am thankful that the Germans didn’t discover and destroy the book. I am thankful Otto allowed the rest of the world to see the diary.
If you haven’t documented your life in some way why not do it? Your life, your story is important. Please leave your legacy!
If you can–treat yourself to one of the remaining performances. It is one of the finest casts I’ve ever had the privilege of sharing the stage with. The lights, set, story…it is truly special. Please hurry though. Only four shows remain. Overshadowed.org
What about you? Have you read the book? Please take a moment to like this post, share, comment! Thank you!
Overshadowed by His Love,
At the first Memorial Day ceremony held in Arlington National Cemetery, small flags were placed at every marker, starting a tradition that is carried on to this day.
Have you ever been to Arlington? I have. My father, a hero in my eyes, is buried there.
Richard E. Ruffin was born on August 24, 1927, during WWII he was in the Navy and as
the story goes as soon as my 6 foot four inch tall dad got off the Navel ship he walked across the street and joined the Army. During the next years he was in Korea, two deployments in Germany and one tour in Vietnam. He received the Bronze star, the Purple Heart and several commendations. How I wish I had somehow asked the right questions to learn more about that time of his life.
My dad loved America. He taught me to value the freedoms that we have. I might not like everything America does or the decisions that some of our leaders make, but I know that we have freedoms that other people do not enjoy. Why? Only one reason. Because, people like my dad fought for those freedoms, died for them, protected them.
Since this is supposed to be a blog about things on and off the stage…I’d like to remember that we have the freedom of speech.
“Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction.”
Freedom of speech allows me to write this blog freely–to express my opinions about God, if I so desire–and to not fear government censorship. This is just one of the reasons I’m thankful for America.
This week let’s join together and remember the cost of our freedoms and the people who gave their all for us.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.”– George S. Patton
“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did. ~Benjamin Harrison
These heroes are dead. They died for liberty – they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest. Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace. In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death. I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead: cheers for the living; tears for the dead. ~Robert G. Ingersoll
Do you know someone that served our country? Do you have a favorite story about them? Do you have a thought about freedom or Memorial Day? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time!