“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.
This past Sunday we all celebrated Mother’s Day. Some of us had the luxury of being together. Some of us had wonderful zoom calls from our kids. Some of us mourned the loss of our mothers. In whatever way you celebrated, I’ll guess that the conversations around your table were different than the conversations held in the past. I’ll tell you the most special gift in the world would have been to be with my children and my mom. As the day went on I thought about my mom spending mother’s day all alone in her retirement home. I am so thankful she is safe, but just like so many other mothers…she is alone. On the day that is set aside to remember mothers and celebrate them–countless numbers of them spent the day all alone. Honestly, I grieved not being able to see her or my kids.
So what are we learning through this crisis?
- To celebrate life. Each and every moment is important. We never know when we are going to be able to spend an additional moment with those we love. We will never take them for granted again.
- We are learning that things we took for granted are infinitely more valuable and necessary than we knew. A hug from a friend. Dinner with a friend. A visit with mom.
- Priorities. What are the things you are missing most during this time? What can you live without? What can’t you live without? Is it possible that we could be building new habits as we realize what things are truly important?
- Things we need to work on. If there is anything we have now it is time….time to think. Time to reflect. Time to figure out if there are bad habits we need to get rid of or good ones we need to develop.
What do you have time for that you never did before?
I’m not going to say that I NEVER had time for a Bible study because I’ve done quite a few in my life, but at the beginning of our shelter-in-place a friend of mine suggested that we start a book/Bible study. I resisted, but as weeks went on I realized it was a really good idea. My mind needed to focus on God and not searching the internet and Facebook for everything that MAN was saying. We are only on our third week, but it is such a blessing to gather and pray with these ladies. And listen….I do not think I would have joined….if not for the virus. Thank you, God, for giving me time to commit to you in this way. Thank you, for the time we spend together.
I look around me and, while I treasure my mom and my family; I am also spending time thinking about all the hardships I see around me. People out of work. People struggling to pay bills. People who have lost loved ones to this horrible virus. People who are suffering with depression or feelings of hopelessness. People who have loss loved ones! Let’s face it, we can all look at the hardship and hopelessness all around us and start to feel lost, depressed, discouraged.
Or, we can come face-to-face with something else. Jesus is the only one that can help. Someone wrote me this quote the other day, “It may seem impossible, but God….”
God. Healer. Comforter. Prince of Peace. Deliverer. One who Sets Us Free. Mighty God.
There are many more, but these are the ones I am claiming for today….
It may seem impossible….but God!
God understands our loneliness. Our Grief. Our disappointment. Our fear. He reminds us with each name from the Bible to call on Him–He alone can comfort, protect and deliver us! Will you all join me to pray earnestly for healing for our country? A treatment? That God will stop this virus?
Well, this is a theater blog after all, right? So I’d like to end with a song that I’ve been thinking about.
This is from Fiddler on the Roof. It makes me cry every time I hear it.
Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?
Sunrise sunset, sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly flow the days,
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as they gaze…
Sunrise sunset, sunrise, sunset!
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears…
Dear Father God,
They grow so fast. The days go quickly. Please let us see our families and enjoy the wonderful gifts that come from You. Please help us to understand our purpose here, when we can’t go out , and it seems like months before we even be able to worship together. How are we supposed to act? What are we supposed to do? We walk in places we have not walked before. Thank You for leading the way, because humanly it all seems impossible. But we know You are the Creator of all and nothing is impossible with you. We also know that you love us more than we can fathom and that you feel our pain during this time. We take comfort that as you wept at the grave of Lazarus that you feel our pain. We ask that you send the Holy Spirit to comfort us and give us strength.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you are coping and praying during this time.
If you think this might be a blessing to others please take time to follow and share.
Until next time,