Every year, for many years, the good people of our land have kept Thanksgiving Day. It comes in the month of November, after the corn, the apples, and the pumpkins are gathered, and after the farmers have cut a pile of wood big enough to last all winter.
By that time, too, the boys and girls who live in the country have had a chance to gather the hickory nuts and walnuts, and the squirrels out in the woods have filled the hollow trees with nuts and acorns.
Then people remember that God has been very good. He has sent the rain and the sunshine, and has made the corn and the apples and the nuts grow. So, we have Thanksgiving Day.
Sometimes a snow comes around Thanksgiving time. Then we may remember the little birds, and put out something for them to eat. We ought also to remember poor people and try to make them happy.
Do you know why they had pumpkin pies at the first Thanksgiving, long ago?
It was because they had no apples. So they took the big orange pumpkins and made pies of them. Now we have had pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving so many times that we do not want to do without them.
The first Thanksgiving was at a place called Plymouth. For almost a year the people there had been very hungry. But God heard their prayers. One day two strangers called Samoset and Squanto visited the settlement. They were native Indians who lived on the land. They taught the settlers how to grow food on their new soil. So the pilgrims made new friends and learned how to grow food in their new home. With the help of Squanto and the other members of his tribe, by the end of the season the Pilgrims had an abundant harvest.
To celebrate the harvest, the Pilgrims invited the Indian tribes to the feast. The Indians helped the settlers hunt for the feast. And a large feast of corn, roasted meat, pumpkin pie, and fruits was shared. The Pilgrims dedicated this day to getting together with friends and family and thanking God for the abundance of good food and for those they love.
And so began the tradition of Thanksgiving.
Night and morn
Shocks of corn
Stood ‘round Plymouth Town;
Nipped the trees
And the nuts came down.
Late that fall
Came to Plymouth Town,
There to eat
Corn bread sweet
And turkey roasted brown.
All the men
To the feast sat down;
Three whole days
Thanks and praise
Rose to God on high.
History Stories for Children, John W. Wayland, ©1991, 23–26.