HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
November 27, 2006, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

A true Thanksgiving

Robert Rupprecht, St. John Lutheran Church, Hollywood

When you refer to Thanksgiving, what comes to mind?

For most, it creates a picture of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. This is our traditional impression of Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims, and Plymouth Colony.

I hate to burst your bubble, virtually everything that we consider as part of the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving is fiction.

The success of the Pilgrims did not develop until their second year. This was so because the first governmental structure of the Pilgrims was more communistic in nature.

Equal portions were distributed to every home, even though they did not put equal effort into supporting the colony. As a result, the first winter brought a shortage of food for the colony.

It was the Wampanoag Indians that bailed out the colony through that first winter. Nearly half of the colony died of disease and starvation. The spring of 1621 could not come soon enough.

With a new year, the government structure was also changed. The governor declared that each family would be able to store what they raised as part of a true capitalistic philosophy.

Provisions for the second fall were much improved over the first year. However, the native guests to their harvest celebration probably brought most of the provisions.

The meats at the three-day celebration comprised of venison, ducks and geese, fish, and lobster for the first festival.

Original source writings noted that the natives provided the kill of five deer and numerous water fowl.

The sea was the easiest source of food for the Pilgrims, including the fish and lobster.

There is no original source mention of turkey; however, they did have wild turkey throughout the year.

Corn, peas, and local nuts may have been prepared to accompany the meats, each of them a source of food introduced to the Pilgrims by the natives. Yams were definitely not on the menu.

One had to be there to fully appreciate the gratitude among the Pilgrims, knowing that they would be able to survive their second winter with adequate food.

You see, for them it was a matter of supplying their needs rather than wants.

I think if the Pilgrims could be transported via time machine to our time, they would be wagging their heads at the whining and complaining of our people that are surrounded by affluence.

Let’s face it; we are a thoroughly spoiled nation. We do not know what hunger or poverty truly is.

Just for instance: if you earn more than two dollars a day, you are earning more money per day than 45 percent of the world’s population. If you are earning $300 per week, in three weeks you earn more than the average Chinese person earns in a year.

If you earn more than $20,000 per year, you are in the top 10 percent of the wealthiest people of the world.

If your earnings exceed $50,000 per year, you are in the top 1 percent of the world’s wealth.

So what is our response? If you have not yet dropped to your knees in humble thanks and praise to your almighty God, now would be the appropriate time.

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise” (Psalm 95:2).

We have been blessed like no other nation on the face of this world or in the total time of human history. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. A belated Thanksgiving blessing to you all.

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