History & Culture

Thanksgiving – Respite from Madness


If Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow’s letter of December 1621 is right, this Thanksgiving marks the 400th anniversary of the first bread breaking and giving of thanks, attended by over 100, a respite from their modern madness. Much can be said, but that respite is key.

At Thanksgiving, prior to and after the holiday became official, Americans gathered to celebrate blessings, families, the New World, surviving another year, shared values, and our oneness.

At the first gathering, emphasis was heavy on gratitude since 45 of the 102 Mayflower passengers died in the initial 1620 to 1621 period, a far higher percentage than we have lost to COVID in the 2020 to 2021 period (one in 500). Living was worth celebrating. Gratitude was about the harvest – and being alive.

Gratitude is also attached to companionship, camaraderie, not just peace but common purpose – a shared interest in living and giving – the newfound Colonist-Native American friendships.

Beyond thanks for life, surviving, and friendship, a period of three days marked that first harvest. Games were played, life’s fragile nature acknowledged, how much in times of need – humans rely on other humans, all differences notwithstanding. Up against it, we need each other.

For reference, 78 percent of women who arrived on the Mayflower perished the first year. By all accounts, the daring pilgrims and accommodating tribesmen of the “Pokanoket Wampanoag” group, led by a “Massasoit,” were dependent on shared grounds for planting. Trust went with bread.

Interestingly, the written record – important enough that William Bradford recounted the feast 20 years later – indicates Native attendees outnumbered new arrivals two-to-one, up to 90 Natives.

Many lessons lie in this fleeting bit of history, not the least that a fleeting bit of history can be incalculably important. Giving thanks lifts us, binds us by gratitude. Sharing life’s bounty is about the memorable joy of giving, more than the immediate value of what is received.

Mutual dependence is sometimes – we know from day-to-day life, military, and civilian combat, the enduring struggle to keep our balance – the very key to survival.

Somewhere before those magical days in 1621, gingerly commemorated over turkey, one brave hand was extended, another brave hand took it. A brave voice was lifted, brave response given. Hand and voice were trusted. Imagine how, if we could replicate that, things might change.

How often do we place ourselves in the shoes – or moccasins – of another? Not often enough. Today, superficial trumps real, complaint and victimhood supersede gratitude and responsibility; distrust is the social default, not the daring required to extend a hand and take it.

Lessons of that first Thanksgiving are many. Perhaps the last is this. Imagine – in a moment when half of all those you know have died, when strangers arrive at your door and you at theirs, when uncertainty abounds, risk attaches to everything, worry is dispelled by prayer, and new friends rare, you stumble on the chance to stop, give thanks, resolve that life is good.

That is what all those – of such different pasts – did that wondrous day. They considered, for that moment in time, the respite worth taking. From their modern madness, they stepped away. From frenzy’s claws, they took a pause, celebrated. If they could take that break 400 years ago, we can now – equal parts hope, confidence, and resolve. Respite is key. Happy Thanksgiving!

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c craft
1 year ago

I am thankful for this message it points out how precious life is and also that of one of my descendants surviving from the mayflower may have existed during the First Thanksgiving. If so that ancestor wanted us to know the special gifts we can have if we do live conscious of sharing and giving to others and recognize God if a prayer was given or not by sharing and loving others we act in faith.

1 year ago

Respite is key – absolutely.Today when we thank our Lord for family and friends, both new and old, we treasure the time we spend with each. New paths are forged and memories abound. May each of you have a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

1 year ago

Thank you for that beautiful, uplifting message. I give thanks for you, Mr. Charles!

1 year ago
Reply to  AnneW

Thank you for the kind thought, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving,

1 year ago

GOD is writing all this down and I would not want to be a democrat for all the money in the world. Democrats are going to burn in hell so they better enjoy life now.

J. Farley
1 year ago

Yes, indeed even with all the strife and the worst President in the history of America, we do have so much to be thankful for, we can become a great Nation again, because our wise and great founders gave us a government that we can change, if we get bad leaders there are ways to get it back on tract.
The world should be thankful for America, because with American blood, we have freed more people from the chains of bondage and deposed more Dictators than any other nation in world history. We have almost made ourselves poor by lifting others from poverty. Those that think we are a terrible Country need to live in a real 3rd world country for a month or two just to see what it’s like or live under the control of leaders in Chins or Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and so many others around the World.
God bless all our founders, like Washington, Jackson, Jefferson Franklin, Adams, Payne, Rever, and the Minutemen who gave their all to make this Nation and God Bless those who have served and are serving in todays Armed forces., for all their sacrifices.
Yes, yes, yes, God Bless America!!!!!!

S Catlena
1 year ago
Reply to  J. Farley

Thank you for your very positive remarks. I am also thankful for the sacrifices of those who served: parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers, my husband, and now our son and grandchildren who are willing stepping up. God bless them and keep them safe.

1 year ago
Reply to  J. Farley

J,Farley, Beautiful comment. May God bless you and God bless America. Happy Thanksgiving.

J. Farley
1 year ago
Reply to  Sheila

S. Catlena and Sheila:, Thank you both for your kind words, I am happy to be an American, I was disabled in 1963 so was unable to join the Military, so that meant that someone had to take my place, the least I can do is show those that served how much I appreciate all that they have done, and do what I can do to keep America strong and proud.
God Bless You Both!!

1 year ago

I’d like to roast a few Democrats and some Rinos on the side, but I doubt even the Hounds would eat them.

1 year ago
Reply to  Russell

Bingo!!! What most Democraps and RINOS are “full of” would only be appealing pleasing to flies and Commies.

Gene Brewer
1 year ago

Enjoyed your article, would like to add a little more Praise and Gratitude to our Heavenly Father and Our Savior Jesus the Christ for this wonderful country, it is a land blessed above all other land and a People blessed above all other People as long as we will follow them.

George Washington's Admirer
1 year ago

Happy Blessed Thanksgiving ~ Fellow Conservatives & Patriots. Happy Thanksgiving to the memory of Our Founding Fathers; most especially President George Washington & President Thomas Jefferson. God Bless Our Faith In Our Country. God Bless Our American Flag. God Bless Our Traditional Beliefs and Values! With Faith In God, & Perseverance We Can Protect Our Country!

Jay Lieberman
1 year ago

Happy Thanksgiving from Crazy California! Amazing to hear the story of Thanksgiving again. And with a lot of tiny detail I’ve never hear before. Detail that is as important as the landing of the Mayflower. Like back then it was all about love caring and trust of your neighbor. Versus today it’s alot about anger, lack of purpose and distrust. We will learn from this time as humans and move forward. Humans are like pendulums. To a bright future!

1 year ago

Happy Thanksgiving! fellow Conservatives,
don’t be afraid to speak out of your beliefs especially if ANY COMRADE spews their Communist garbage! . . . I am thankful that I will be celebrating with fellow Conservatives, God Bless people!

Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

Happy Thanksgiving AMAC members from a Hoosier! This article could have mentioned that “socialism” was practiced the first year which led to their dire condition. Once they switched to capitalism, they thrived. I sure missed listening to El Rushbo telling that story this year!

1 year ago

Yep! That’s a huge representative part of the story! Socialism tried first in 2 different colonies – no land ownership, no work requirement and it failed MISERABLY. When changes were made to ownership of real estate and working that land, the colonies flourished. Listen and learn!
I’m thankful for the few conservative political people we have in our government. May God bless them and may they succeed!!

Stephen Russell
1 year ago

Thanksgiving amid Maddness:
Australia transporting Unvaxxed to NW Territ into camps , rerun WW2 Internment camps & Nazi camps pre Death Camps for Jews
Very scary
Give Thanks NOT here in the US yet

Sharon Ormsby
1 year ago

Man, I’m glad I don’t live there. One of my daughters can’t take the vaccination-highly allergic to the ingredients, she tried and broke out everywhere! Tongue and all! Second daughter has blood clotting! Can’t take it either. I’ve gotten the vaccinations but they aren’t effective after six months anyway, even with boosters.

Sharon Ormsby
1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon Ormsby

Should have said blood clotting disorder….

1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon Ormsby

Happy Thanksgiving!
I can’t take the vaccine either because of a clotting disorder. My dr would not sign a medical exemption for me. But my employer granted me a religious exemption after 2 tries, so I still have my job! I am thankful and give all praise and glory to God this holiday for that blessing!
Praying for you and your family.

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