Summary: Biblical reasons to be thankful to God, especially in America.
THANKSGIVING - Five Kernels of Corn
The pilgrims came to America in 1620. They spent 66 days in the hold of a ship called The Mayflower, arriving on Nov. 21.
One month later, on Dec. 26, all 102 passengers set foot on land and began to establish the colony of Plymouth.
The pilgrims immediately began to build shelters, but soon they were overcome by a general sickness. Through the course of the winter 46 died, nearly half their original number.
One day in mid-March a lone Indian appeared, his name Samoset, he had learned to speak English from the sea captains that sailed up and down the coast, and was friendly. He left the pilgrims the next morning returning a week later bringing another Indian with him named Squanto.
Squanto had been captured and taken to England and lived there for 15 years. He had returned to America six months earlier only to find that his tribe had been massacred. When he learned that this colony of English were struggling to survive, he adopted them as his own, teaching them how to plant, fish, hunt, and trade with their neighbors the Wampanoag [Wam-pan-oog] Indians and their Chief, Massasoit. [Mas-sa-soit]
The following is adapted from The Light and the Glory, by Peter Marshall, and David Manuel.
The summer of 1621 was beautiful. Much work went into the building of new dwellings, and ten men were sent north up the coast in the sailing shallot to conduct trade with the Indians. Squanto once again acted as their guide and interpreter. It was a successful trip, and that fall’s harvest provided more than enough corn to see them through their second winter.
The pilgrims were brimming over with gratitude, not only to Squanto and the Wampanoags who had been so friendly, but to their God. In Him they had trusted, and He had honored their obedience beyond their dreams. So, Governor Bradford declared a day of public Thanksgiving, to be held in October.
Massasoit was invited, and unexpectedly arrived a day early-with NINETY Indians! Counting their numbers, the Pilgrims had to pray hard to keep from giving in to despair. To feed such a crowd would cut deeply into the food supply that was supposed to get them through the winter.
But they had learned one thing through their travails, it was to trust God implicitly. As it turned out, the Indians were not arriving empty-handed. Massasoit had commanded his braves to hunt for the occasion, and they arrived with no less than five dressed deer, and more than a dozen fat wild turkeys! And they helped with the preparations, teaching the Pilgrim women how to make hoecakes and a tasty pudding out of cornmeal and maple syrup. Finally, the Indians showed the Pilgrims a special delicacy: how to roast corn kernels in an earthen pot until they popped, fluffy and white - POPCORN!
The Pilgrims in turn provided many vegetables from their household gardens: carrots, onions, turnips, parsnips, cucumbers, radishes, beets, and cabbages. Also, using some of their precious flour, they took summer fruits which the Indians had dried and introduced them to the likes of blueberry, apple, and cherry pie.
It was all washed down with sweet wine made from the wild grapes. A joyous occasion for all! Between meals, the pilgrims and Indians happily competed in shooting contests with gun and bow. The Indians were especially delighted that John Alden and some of the younger men of the plantation were eager to join them in foot races and wrestling. There were even military drills staged by Captain Standish. Things went so well (and Massasoit [Mas-sa-soit] showed no inclination to leave), that Thanksgiving Day was extended for three days.
One month later, in November, a full year after their arrival, the first ship from home dropped anchor in the harbor leaving off a cargo at Plymouth: thirty-five more colonists. In the air of celebration that followed, no one stopped to think that these newcomers had brought not one bit of equipment with them-no food, no clothing, no tools, no bedding.
In the cold light of the following morning, a sobering appraisal by Bradford, Brewster, and Winslow was taken, and a grim decision was reached: they would all have to go on half-rations through the winter, to ensure enough food to see them into the summer season, when fish and game would be plentiful.
That winter they entered into a time of starving, much like the starving that took place at Jamestown that killed 8 out of 10 of their people. With all the extra people to feed and shelter they were ultimately reduced to a daily ration of Five Kernels of corn a piece.
In contrast to what happened at Jamestown, where they were driven to despair, the people of Plymouth turned to Christ, and not one of them died of starvation.