Over 400 years ago near Plymouth, an autumn harvest feast was attended by various native people and newly arrived Pilgrims. Those early settlers put aside time from their labors to thank God for His merciful blessings. God’s hand was in the details of many lives leading up to this event.
Recently, our kindergarten and first graders took part in a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving feast, focusing their attention on gratitude. Each student represented either a Pilgrim or Native American. Students spent time weaving paper placemats for this special occasion. Their feast was held in the classroom. There was an array of various foods like those enjoyed at the first feast many years ago. The menu at the first feast looked much different than our traditional Thanksgiving meal looks today. Food was gathered from their plentiful harvested crops of all manner of vegetables, venison, wild turkeys and other fowl, varieties of fish, nuts, and fruits.
Leading up to their feast, the students studied several significant historical figures present at the first Thanksgiving feast, including Chief Massasoit, William Bradford, Squanto, and Samoset. These individuals became more real as stories were shared from the lives of those gathered at the first feast so many years hence. By sharing a feast of their own, the student's imaginations were warmed and it became more meaningful to them, especially as they could see what it would have been like to have been present many years ago. The students were able to think and wonder about having an opportunity to meet, communicate and learn from Squanto or sit among William Bradford and listen to the gratitude expressed in word and silent prayer towards God for their bounteous blessings. This was a new land, full of new challenges and dangers. The Pilgrims had to learn to plant crops and hunt. In particular, Squanto taught the newly arrived settlers how to work the land and grow crops in order to survive a cold New England winter.
Among the writings of those early Pilgrims, William Bradford recorded:
“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.”
O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever (Psalms 107:1).
At Belmont, students are fortunate to study and learn about truths taught and cherished by those who have gone before us, paving a path for future generations. May we express gratitude to God this season, and may we remember those many tears and prayers that led our forefathers to this country we call home, a place of freedom and hope.
By Mrs. Rachael Wood
Teacher of Kindergarten / 1st Grade Math, Science, History, and Geography