Maybe this is a year when the phrase "celebrate Thanksgiving" makes us laugh. Or cry.
Perhaps money is tight or health is bad or one of our kids has taken a bad turn. Whatever the reason, a turkey won't fix it.
Stories of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving seem a million years away from today.
Yet I think they can teach you and me a lot about how to live our lives--and celebrate God's goodness.
Don't confuse The Mayflower with today's cruise ships
The Mayflower likely was a merchant ship only 64 feet long, about as far as from a baseball pitcher's mound to home plate.
Because these 102 people were considered "cargo," they were crowded into the dark cargo space, an area about half the size of a basketball court. Ceiling height was less than five feet.
The Pilgrims' group included 18 married couples and their children of various ages. Two wives were pregnant. One delivered her child enroute.
The l-o-n-g crossing
The Mayflower crossed the Atlantic at the breathtaking speed of about two miles an hour.
For 66 days these families and singles lived in that confined space with little privacy and poor ventilation. Nine weeks of praying God would protect them through squalls and raging storms and bring them safely to the New World where they could worship Him as they thought right.
Finally, on November 11, 1620, the captain spotted Cape Cod and dropped anchor offshore.
No inns with warm rooms and cushy beds awaited them
They had only The Mayflower for lodging and provisions stored onboard.
Only the cold, gray unknown, their fears and their faith in a faithful God.
The Mayflower would sail back to England in spring. Knowing that drove the men to keep going as they daily rowed to land, working together in the cold to build basic shelter for their group and also the chickens and pigs they had brought.
All that year they also dug graves. By that first Thanksgiving only 50 of the 102 Pilgrims who left England still breathed. Of the 18 married couples just three remained intact.
Yet despite their heavy hearts, the survivors gathered to thank and praise God for His goodness to them. They looked around and gave thanks for what was left and for what they had learned.
Do we have what it takes to do the same?
If we've lived awhile we've learned that even when life is good, it's seldom easy. Passing on our stories of how we experienced God's faithfulness will bless our children and grandchildren--even if they roll their eyes.
The Pilgrims' story provides the perfect lead-in.
Find the way that feels most comfortable.
- Remind everyoneto be sensitive of people's feelings--children, too
- Share memories and instances when you knew God was blessing you and/or your family, whether past or present.
- Write what--or who--you're thankful for. (Just speaking it is fine, too.)
- Take turns reading your lists and talk about what's been written.
It's a way to connect heart-to-heart
However we choose to open up it will change the feel of the day and draw us closer as family and friends. Like the Pilgrims, in any situation if we take our eyes off ourselves we can find reasons to thank God.
Thanking God leads to rejoicing. And isn't that the way we Christians are meant to live 365 days a year?
Here's a Bible verse to hang onto:
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. --Colossians 2:6-7 ESV
Thanking God for you, dear reader,
- Note: The Plimoth Plantation, a modern-day recreation of Plymouth Village, is worth taking a detour anytime you're on the East Coast. It also has a wonderful website that will make you feel on-the-scene: http://www.plimoth.org/