Sunday, November 16, 2014

Preparing for a New England Thanksgiving

Library of Congress:  Currier and Ives, "Home to Thanksgiving," 1867.

I am reminded of my old Massachusetts home at this time of year.   Our family had a membership at Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  I took my children there many times.  We wandered around the living museum observing costumed actors going about the historic daily life of the Pilgrims.

The settlement was right beside the ocean. The whipping sea winds made the cold Autumn weather icy and bitter.  (Having lived most of my life at the ocean in a nearby town, I know how difficult the winter ocean air can be.) The simple homes the people lived in had fireplaces to keep them warm.  Each house had only one room. They were like tiny cottages with a bed and a table. Each family: mother, father and children lived in their own cottage. I saw the hard work each had to do. There were gardens to cultivate, heavy clothing to wash, outdoor kitchens to work in, an abundance of wood to chop, and babies and children to take care of.  This was all for survival.  This was the beginning of a new life here in America for these foreigners.  I often thought how much warmer and nicer life would have been if they had settled out in the mountains rather than by the cold ocean. But it was far too dangerous at the time.

On each of our many visits to the Plantation, we sat in their humble church.  I was in awe.  I love how the people themselves built the church using the nearby trees for building supplies.  There were straight, plain benches for the congregation, and a place in the front for the Minister.  This was where he encouraged the people and inspired them to holy living so they could face the coming week ahead.  This was where he preached and taught against sin, convicting their hearts and minds to stay on that precious Heavenly path. 

The journey the Pilgrims took to get to this country was treacherous.  Have you seen the Mayflower ship?  A short drive from the Plantation brings you to Plymouth Rock and the Ships for tourists.  We have walked through the boat and have seen the living conditions, which tells me that those people had a strength of character and a moral endurance to accomplish something few of us today could manage. 

Many died on that ocean voyage.  Many also died before the first year on the Plantation.  I am sure the Pilgrims prayed constantly for health and continued courage.  The Bible was the most important book to them.  They taught it to their children.  They comforted one another with its words.  They lived it!

That first Thanksgiving was modeled after the Biblical time of feasting. The Pilgrims, who were deeply religious, most likely were inspired to do this from Leviticus 23: 34, which is the commandment for the Feast of Tabernacles (or "Sukkot"- meaning "booths" or "temporary dwellings").  This was a time to gather up the harvest to worship and thank God for his provision. 

This time of year, many of us want to throw a large celebration.  We might spend far more money on food than we can afford, and not even consider its folly.  The high cost of food makes many of us poor.  For those who have farms and are growing their own apples and fruits, have their own turkeys, and grow their own vegetable - these are the people who can have a plenteous table with food grown for very little cost, with the work of their own hands.  But for the rest, who have to buy every apple to make a pie, or have to buy the turkey and the potatoes and all the rest, far too  much money can be easily spent.  This is not the purpose of the Thanksgiving holiday. 

In our home, I have to count the cost.  I have to find the sales and "scour out the land" to make our Thanksgiving wonderful, but something we can afford.  We will have our own family and guests as well.  It will be a precious and delightful time.  But I will host this in a manner in which I can afford, and with creativity and the works of our own hands.  I will make what I can, and buy what I can afford.  We mothers can make these special times because of our labor and prudence.

The Pilgrims were a humble people who sought after holiness.  Their first Thanksgiving feast was a joyous time to enjoy the prosperity of an abundance of food the Lord had provided for them.

Let us follow their example despite a consumerist, ungodly culture around us.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

What Life is Like - Living Without Credit Cards.

Mother inspires the Family - The Cultured Society of Home.

Summer Days at the Estate - Walking the Gardens with Baby.

Read Mrs. White's book on Saving Money and Inspiring Charity -Economy for the Christian Home.  Paperback, 110 pages.

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Debbie said...

Mrs. White,
How great to log on and see you here again! I hope you're feeling well and managing everything well these days.

I am glad to find you sharing your blog again.

God Bless you,

Patty B said...

A very nice article on Thanksgiving! I, too, have been to Plimoth Plantation many times when I used to live in Rhode Island. It is an interesting and sobering place. I sure wish our nation would get back to what Thanksgiving used to be: a time for family, thankfulness for blessings and a day set aside to ponder the good things of the year. I am so upset that it has become a day for shopping and football and glorifying the turkey. Many times I have also had to re-do the menu to reflect what I could afford. One year we had meatloaf, mashed potatoes and canned corn. I made a small apple pie with some apples I got for free from a neighbor. It was still a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! It might not have been 'traditional' in the modern sense, but it was a great family time filled with joy and plenty to eat anyway.

Unknown said...

Mrs. White,
How refreshing to find you here again. Loved your post, and yes we should open our hearts to learn from our first settlers to be humble, holy and a great community of people. Thank you for sharing this reminder of what Thanksgiving is truly about. Togetherness, love, family, friends and breaking bread!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday!


Anonymous said...

Love this. Your posts are like a breath of fresh air. So simple and humble when everything else in the world is so fast and extravagant. Thank you for your simplicity and love for thd home. It's hard to find these days.

Deborah Montgomery said...

So nice to see a post from you. I am in awe of those first settlers, their hard work and their godliness. They are quite an example to us.

JES said...

This is true in so many areas... Thank you.

jviola79 said...

It was wonderful to read this post. Perhaps because I still live in Massachusetts :) Visiting both the Plantation and the Mayflower were always special times for our family. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Jenny said...

Wow! Such an inspiring post.

Rachel and Family said...

I really like the conclusion you made that the Pilgrims must have been inspired to Feast because of their Biblical knowledge of The Feast of Tabernacles.
And the descriptions you gave of the early living was wonderful. I hope to visit someday!
Glad to see you posting again, I am always exhorted when I read your writings. God Bless you.

living from glory to glory said...

Hello Mrs White, This was very profound! Yet filled with a simple truth that seems to elude us way too often!
Happy Thanksgiving and I know it will be wonderful!
Warmlt, Roxy

JES said...

Thank you for sharing this down to earth post on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. I really enjoyed reading it and have *featured* it this week on our blog. May your autumn be blessed and may you be followed with a cozy and warm winter.

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

The Pilgrims set quite an example for the rest of us. I have always been in awe of how they managed their homes. Having been born in Canada, I have enjoyed American history very much. Now that I have a son who lives in the States, it is easier to learn more about it. Thank you very much for sharing your post. I found it very inspiring as I know others will. God bless you, Mrs. White!

Mrs.T said...

Loved this inspiring post, Mrs. White! Although I live in a neighboring state, it has been many years since I visited Plimoth Plantation, and I don't think my hubby has ever been. Maybe this will be a trip we can take in retirement, we will see.

Thanks for sharing this. What a blessing! I especially liked the exhortation to follow the Pilgrims' example in spite of the culture around us.