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CLASS NOTES – Thankful for a Modern Day Thanksgiving

Charles Dickens penned, “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many – not your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

Attempting to understand the significance of plunging down a fiscal cliff and still enduring the long recession, it’s easy to forget these enduring words. The media often magnifies the doom and gloom of our societal issues and forecasts more hardship ahead. However, things aren’t ever as bleak as some would have us believe.

I say: Rebel against pessimism! Let’s reflect and be content with our bounty this Thanksgiving. From medicine to microwaves, modern conveniences have allowed us to live longer, work less, and have more time for leisure. We have come a very long way since the first Thanksgiving feast almost four hundred years ago.

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It all started in the fall of 1621. The Plymouth colonists (Pilgrims) gathered to give thanks for their first harvest and for surviving their first dreadful winter in Massachusetts. And it was dreadful. Two or three Pilgrims died every day during the first two months they were in Plymouth. Four entire families were taken. Thirteen of the 18 women died. There were no preventative flu shots, fever reducers, cough medicines, or hospitals to isolate and care for the sick.

The fortunate survivors were greatly aided by their newfound Indian friends. Many argue none would have survived without this help. But, it would be many years before the great friendship between the white European and the Indians would end.

Kids were not playing video games, watching TV, or texting their friends. Children as young as five worked from sunrise to sunset fetching wood, gathering water, and herding geese. Older children worked in the fields, harvesting and fertilizing new crops. Teenage boys helped with plowing and hunting while teenage girls took care of the infants, sewed, and cooked meals.

Pilgrim parents constantly corrected and disciplined their children. They thought the native people were too lenient with their young.

If that’s not enough to make your kids fall to their knees in gratitude, tell them this: Both girls and boys wore dresses – full length dresses called gowns. And, they didn’t throw them in the washer and dryer after a hard day’s work. When they laundered, which was not very often, it was in a bucket of cold salt water.

Today many families celebrate Thanksgiving watching football and eating heaps of delicious food. Why not include some appreciative reflection? One way is to join the family together and create a thankful paper chain. It’s super easy. Just cut out strips of paper and connect them together as loops. Before linking them, write a grateful note on each. Brainstorm all the luxuries of modern life before having the kids write theirs.

Once it’s finished, color it, glitter it up, and hang it over the door, or on the Christmas tree for a decorative reminder of our blessings.

I hope you and your family enjoy a thankful, blessed Thanksgiving with all the trimmings and trappings of a modern day feast!

Contact Margaret Lavin at elementarydays@gmail.com.

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