What is the original Thanksgiving story? Today, all most Americans typically remember is the proverbial “Pilgrims and Indians” scene, with the autumn leaves on the trees, sitting around a large turkey dinner at a large table outside a small village, and little, if anything else. I believe that the original records in Gov. William Bradford’s journals are a very accurate, and first-hand, representation of what actually happened in our nation’s early years, especially the story of the “First Thanksgiving”. In reality, the pilgrims were thanking God for His provision, as they had almost starved their first time around, and for their newly found friends, the Native Americans of the Northeastern region. This is, in my opinion, the most commonly forgotten part of the story, and one from which we can learn much. The pilgrims’ first attempted form of government was what we know today as Socialism: All the civilians grew the food, and gave all of it to the government who then in turn, put it in a storehouse. Then the food was distributed to those as needed. Some saw that they did not need to work and would still get their food. As you can imagine, this first attempt of government was short-lived. So the people tried a new way of government: Capitalism. The people were given their own land, produced their own food, and kept it for themselves. This was what they believed and what I still believe to be the wiser of the two choices. This was another reason that they gave thanks to God, that He had shown them the form of government that gave the people the biggest opportunity possible in their new home. Thanksgiving was not declared a national holiday until a long time later, but is valued by, and enjoyed by many. I believe that it is indeed, a uniquely American holiday, and one that I will always remember, treasure, celebrate, and enjoy.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.