By the time they reached the shores of America, the Pilgrims had sacrificed much of what they held dear to worship God. They left their native country, family, friends, home, livelihood and many of the comforts of life, and landed in a cold and hostile wilderness.
William Bradford tells us, “Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element.”
But their troubles were far from over. Bradford recounts, “It pleased God to visit us then with death daily, and with so general a disease that the living were scarce able to bury the dead.” More than half of the Pilgrims died the first winter.
And yet, when spring arrived and the captain of their ship offered to return them to England for free, not one Pilgrim accepted his invitation. Their faith in God gave them the strength to persevere.
Governor William Bradford declared, “Thus out of small beginnings greater things have grown by His hand. Who made all things out of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light enkindled here has shone to many, yea, in a sense, to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.”
The Pilgrims were willing to sacrifice everything for the freedom to worship God as they believed. In so doing, they laid the foundation for the creation of the greatest nation in the history of the world.
As we enjoy a feast with friends and loved ones, let’s take time to give thanks to God, to retell the story of the Pilgrims and the incredible price they paid to be faithful, and to recommit ourselves to pay the price to be true in our day.
Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Here are some resources to help your family create happy, meaningful memories.
- The Mayflower Compact (4:25)
- The Mayflower Story (36:26)
- The Thanksgiving Story for Children (24:35)
- Plimoth Plantation Virtual Field Trips
- Pilgrim Village (17:54)
- Wampanoag Homesite (16:51)
- Plimoth Plantation (30:23)
- William Bradford for Kids (2:30)
- Squanto, the Legendary Friend of the Pilgrims (7:09)
- Pocahontas - Animated Hero Classics (33:58)
- Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving-DTH (5:20)
- History of Thanksgiving David Barton (6:42)
- True Story of Thanksgiving Rush Limbaugh (14:21)
- Read George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation with your family. It could be on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving morning, at your Thanksgiving dinner table, or any time that works for your family. In fact you could read a quote, story, or any other meaningful Thanksgiving message together every day of Thanksgiving week.
- Work together to prepare your Thanksgiving feast and to clean up afterwards.
- Do something nice for a military family and tell them how thankful you are for them.
- Help refugees or other immigrants in your community.
- Make or draw "We Are Thankful for You" posters or pictures and deliver them to friends and neighbors. Kids love to make it an anonymous surprise. Tape the picture to the front door or on the windshield of a car, ring the doorbell, and run.
- Take pictures of things you are thankful for and make a "Gratitude Scrapbook."
- The Pilgrims and Indians had friendly competitions. You could participate in the local Turkey Trot, play games like catch, football, horseshoes, or frisbee golf.
- Make Pilgrim Hats and Indian Headdresses for the kids.
- Do the Five Kernels of Corn activity.
- Make a Gratitude Craft.
- Do some Plimoth.org: Just for Kids activities.
- The Pilgrims Depart from the Old World
- Pilgrims Arrive in the New World
- Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving
- The Story of Thanksgiving
- Stories of the Pilgrims
- Paying the Price to Be True
- George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
- Abraham LIncoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
- A Thanksgiving Message from Ronald Reagan
- Thanksgiving Quotations