Elizabeth’s body rippled with excitement. She shoved back the covers and hopped out of bed. Today was the day. Her cousins from Ohio would arrive in two hours. Mama had even promised she could help to make the pumpkin pies.
The scent of turkey wafted to her nostrils, and her stomach rumbled. She hurried through her morning chores.
“Good morning, Mama.”
“Hello, sweetheart. Your breakfast is on the table. As soon as you finish eating, I could use your help with these pies.” Her mother smiled.
Elizabeth bent her head and prayed before she shoveled the warm oatmeal into her mouth. Mmm. Mama always knew the right amount of brown sugar to add to make it sweet.
A few minutes later, Elizabeth rolled up her sleeves and grasped the handles of the rolling pin. The dough squished and flattened beneath her movements.
“How come we only make pumpkin pies and eat turkey on Thanksgiving, Mama?” She blew a wisp of hair from her eyes.
“Because it’s a special day—”
“I know. You taught me about the Pilgrims and Indians.” Elizabeth continued to roll the pin across the dough.
“That’s part of the reason why we celebrate this day and eat special food. It reminds us of that first Thanksgiving Day.” Mama wiped her hands on her apron and crossed the room to check on the potatoes boiling on the stove. “We also pause this day to give thanks to God for all His many blessings.”
Elizabeth thought about what Mama had said for a moment. “But shouldn’t we be thankful for what God has done every day?”
“Yes,” Mama smiled. “Each day is a good time to give thanks.”
Algonquin, Massasoit, Mayflower, Pilgrims, Samoset, scurvy, Separatist, sextant, Squanto, Wampanoag.
- “Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” Psalm 30:4
- “Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.” Psalm 75:1
- “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1
- “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- The book of Psalms has many verses on being thankful. Find ten and record them in a journal. Memorize at least one.
- There are many places in Scripture describing thankful situations—the wedding feast where Jesus performed His first miracle, the reunion of Joseph with his family, the prodigal son returning home. Pick one of these stories and read together with your family.
- The Feast of Weeks, the year of Jubilee, and Passover were times when the Israelites thanked God for His provision. Research one of these and tell your family what you learn.
- On July 22, 1620, the Pilgrims boarded the Speedwell in Delftshaven, Holland. They landed in Southampton, England. Identify both countries on a map.
- The Separatist Movement started in England. People separated from the Church of England because they felt God’s Word wasn’t being taught there. They had their own worship services and faced persecution and time in prison because of their beliefs. Eventually, they relocated to Holland. Can you think of another time in history when Christians have suffered because of their faith in God?
- Once they reached England, one hundred and two Separatists, or Pilgrims, were spread across two ships for the voyage at sea—the Speedwell and the Mayflower. Unfortunately, the Speedwell sprung a leak, and all had to transfer to the Mayflower. Write a story about the cramped conditions these passengers faced.
- The Mayflower Compact was written and signed on November 11, 1620—a document to govern the people. Find a copy and read it.
- In the spring, the Pilgrims met Samoset, the chief of the Algonquin Indians. He brought a friend from the Patuxet tribe called Squanto. Find out what you can about Squanto and report it to your family.
- Squanto lived with the Wampanoag tribe. Massasoit was chief, and he wanted to become friends with the Pilgrims. They formed a peace treaty which lasted over fifty years. Write a peace treaty.
- The Mayflower was subject to the winds and storms at sea, with only limited equipment for navigation. Research and learn how a sextant and compass were used for navigation.
- Sailors relied on charts while they were at sea so they would know where land masses, currents, water depths, and other hazards and benefits were. Create a navigational chart of your own design.
- One of the crops that Squanto taught the Pilgrims to plant was corn. He used something special to fertilize the soil when he dropped the kernels into the ground. Find out what this was.
- The Pilgrims faced many hardships their first winter in the New World—harsh conditions, sickness, fire, lack of food, and even death. So many died the first few months on shore that they buried their loved ones at night so the Indians wouldn’t be able to see how quickly their numbers were dwindling. Pretend you lived with the Pilgrims and write an article for the New World Gazette, reporting on their struggles.
- As a family, make a list of all the things you are thankful for. See if you can each add something new every day through the months of November and December.
- Write a story from a young Indian girl or boy’s point of view and describe the friends you met at the first Thanksgiving feast.
- Figure out the distance from Holland to England.
- The original journey started on July 22, 1620. The shores of the New World weren’t spotted until November 9, 1620. How many days had passed during this time?
- The Mayflower had one hundred and two passengers when it departed from England. Two died on the voyage—a sailor and a servant. One baby was born on the trip, and forty-seven Pilgrims died the first winter in the New World. How many were left?
- On the long voyage, scurvy was a common ailment. This disease is easily prevented by getting enough of a certain vitamin. Research and learn what it is, and report your findings to your family.
- Passengers on the Mayflower packed barrels of meal and grain, sacks of beans, dried peas, and other veggies, as well as tubs of butter. If you were going on a long journey at sea, what would you take?
- Their first October in the New World, the Pilgrims wanted to honor their Indian friends and thank God for His abundant blessings. Their guests showed them how to make a special snack—popcorn. Make and eat some with your family or a few friends.
- Draw a picture of the Mayflower.
- Paint a depiction of the first Thanksgiving.
- Using colored pencils, draw Squanto, Samoset, and Massasoit. Remember that they represented three different tribes, so their clothing likely had some distinctions between them.
- “Now Thank We All Our God” was written in 1636. Find the words to this song and sing it together with a friend.
- Copy the words of five songs that pertain to Thanksgiving. Create your own songbook.
- Sing “Give Thanks” before you celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Take turns sharing one thing you are thankful for before you eat your meal.
- During the first Thanksgiving feast, the Pilgrims played games and competed in contests such as wrestling and racing. Come up with some activities and reenact this day of celebration.
Jodie Wolfe is married to her best friend, David. Her passions are writing, reading, knitting, and leading a Bible study for women. Jodie is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. After sixteen years of homeschooling her two sons, she is now moving on to a new era of writing Christian historical romances. Check out her musings at http://diggingforpearls.blogspot.com.
Jodie Wolfe is married to her best friend, David. Her passions are writing, reading, knitting, and leading a Bible study for women. Jodie is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. After sixteen years of homeschooling her two sons, she is now moving on to a new era of writing Christian historical romances. Check out her musings at http://diggingforpearls.blogspot.com and http://shininggodslightthroughhistory.blogspot.com.
Respectful dissent is allowed; name-calling, profanity, and disrespect are not. Comments are subject to moderation.