Friday, November 21, 2008

Guest Blog - Don't Know Much About the Pilgrims

Next Thursday on November 27th, Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving. For most Americans it is a time to gather with family and friends and to take a moment to express appreciation for all that they have. Usually they will eat a turkey dinner with all of the side dishes that go with it and watch football on television. Although President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November, it was not until 1941 that Congress declared a national holiday to give thanks setting the holiday as the fourth Thursday in November.

The first Thanksgiving was a feast that both Indians/Native Americans and the Puritans shared. Most of us have some vague memories from elementary school of learning about the Pilgrims and of how the Indians brought them food and taught them how to grow crops in their new home. If you would like a refresher course, Kenneth C. Davis has a children’s book out called Don’t Know Much About the Pilgrims. It is a very painless way for children and the adults in their lives to learn more about the Puritans and their early struggles to settle in New England. The book answers questions about what the Pilgrims wore, how they built their houses and where they worshipped. In fact it answers the question of how the Puritans became called the Pilgrims. There are bright and entertaining illustrations by S.D. Schindler to spark the imagination. In fact I learned a lot that I had not known about those first few years in Massachusetts.

I felt really confident about all of the information that the author shared until I came to the end of the book. On page 44 Davis says, “Today about one in every six Americans has a relative who came over on the Mayflower.” In my own family tree I am aware of Swiss Mennonites who came to the United States in about 1720. My husband has relatives that can be traced back to Tennessee in the early 1800s. Some how though I don’t think either of us had an ancestor on the Mayflower and I suspect that there are millions of Americans today whose families came to the shores of North America long after the Pilgrims. I wonder if this is a typo or if Mr. Davis just needs to check his statistics one more time.

In any case, this was a fun read and a good reminder that we have much to be grateful for. We in the US will miss the Blogger this Thanksgiving. I understand that she will be teaching classes in Turkey next Thursday.

1 comment:

Blogger said...

Some of my students are very offended that we call a bird turkey, and they weren't amused when I told them turkey is the traditional meal for Thanksgiving.