Herald-Journal
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, November 23, 1998

The first Thanksgiving Day

By OPAL "GRANDMA" HABISCH

Many years ago, our first families came to America and landed on the shores of the big ocean. The new land they found had not been settled by anyone before them.

They cut down trees to build and heat their homes. Land was cleared to plant the seeds they brought with them so they would have food for the winter. They also found that there were wild deer and fish to eat in the area.

Some of the seeds the families planted were corn seeds. When the corn was ripe, they dried and crushed it and made flour to use to make bread and other foods.

The people also made tools out of wood to be used for tilling the soil. They worked very hard because all of these things had to be done by hand.

The only people they found in the new land were Indians. They made friends with the Indians and taught them about God and how to pray. The families were very religious and they spent a lot of time thanking God for his help in settling the new land.

The Indians didn't know anything about God, but they would come and hide in the woods and watch the people.When the Indians saw the people get down on their knees to pray, they wondered what these funny people were doing.

One day, a lone Indian came out of the woods and started walking toward the people. He was the chief of the Indian tribe.

Now, the families spoke a different language than the Indians did and so neither the Indians or the people could understand what the other said. The elder of the group held his hand out to the Indian, smiled and said, "Friend."

The Indian didn't know what the man said, but he could see that he was smiling. The other people in the group held out their hands to the Indian and smiled at him, too.

The Indian Chief decided that the people meant no harm so he came closer to them and held out his hand. The other Indians also came out of the woods and stood beside him. All of the Indians held out their hands to the people, smiled and said, "Friend."

The people invited the Indians to sit down and share their food. After they finished eating, the Indian Chief pulled out a pipe, started to smoke it, and handed it to the elder to smoke.

From that time forward, the Indians would come every day to watch and listen to the people sing and pray and they would bring deer meat and wild pig for the people to eat. When they finished eating, the elder and the chief would smoke the pipe and the elder would tell the Indians about God.

In the fall, the people harvested all of their corn and other crops from the land. They decided to set aside a special time to get together for a big meal and to pray and thank God for the good harvest.

The people invited the Indians to join them for this special get-together. The Indians brought wild turkeys for the meal and they all sat together and ate their fill. After the meal, the people and the Indians gave thanks for their many blessings.

Then the elder said, "We will set aside a day every year to give thanks to God for our good harvest. We will get together and pray and we will call it Thanksgiving. This tradition will be passed down from generation to generation."

And, even today, we set aside a special day to get together and give thanks. We call this special time Thanksgiving Day.


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