The tradition of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving is steeped in myth and legend. While it is a day celebrated by many Americans it is also the “National Day of Mourning” for many Native Americans. Being a descendant of John Alden and Myles Standish, I suppose it would be hard for me to be unbiased when it comes to celebrating the holiday. However, my celebration of Thanksgiving is not meant to be disrespectful to Native Americans. For me Thanksgiving is a day when I set aside all the little things that seemed so important and focus on what really matters- spending time with family. With today’s economy, it’s especially important to be thankful for what I have and that the health and happiness of family and friends is what’s really important (not wondering if I should be spending money on a better camera lens).
Below is an excerpt from a letter written by Edward Winslow dated December 12, 1621 that describes his account of a feast between the Pilgrims and Native Americans (taken from the Mayflower History site).
Our corn [i.e. wheat]did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.
If you can’t tell, the above photo is of a roasted pig. And, while it looks like mashed potatoes I think I overheard the woman say it wasn’t potatoes but didn’t catch what she said it actually was.