Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Giving Thanks

November 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

A Season of Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is a time of historical significance to Americans, although over time, many of the details of the “First Thanksgiving” have been obscured or misrepresented. Nonetheless, regardless of the details, the pilgrim travails had been many, and the loss of family and friends grievous. Here’s a bit of history about the day of thankfulness! Indeed a time to share and give our blessings.

According to William Bradford, governor of Plymouth and Plimoth Plantation (the site of that first Thanksgiving), “They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.”

The Pilgrims started constructing their living houses and storehouses in late December 1620, but only managed to get a couple built before and during the first winter; they were hindered further by occasional fires, usually caused by a spark or ember from the fire making it onto the roof, which was constructed of dried thatch. On 28 December 1620, the Pilgrims assigned plots to the 19 family groups, each family was responsible for building their own house, as well as supplying labor to build community storehouses and brick ovens for baking, a defensive fort, and sheds.They were assigned land plots that were 50 feet deep.The width of the lot was about 8 feet multiplied by the number of members in the family, so a family of six would have received a plot of land approximately 50 feet by 50 feet.In December 1621, Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow wrote a letter in which he said “we have built seven dwelling-houses, and four for the use of the plantation.”

The houses on Plymouth Plantation were made out of logs, hay, rocks, wood and mud. Pilgrim houses were always one-room houses with an attic that had only ladder access. This one room was called the keeping room because it was, indeed, where all their belongings were kept. The entire family, and any servants present, ate, slept and lived in the keeping room. The keeping room had a fireplace where they cooked all their food and kept themselves warm.

As we gather together, to ask for blessings on our families for the next year, and to give praise for the things for which we are grateful, our homes take center stage. Some of us may live in small homes, or studio apartments, but we did not have the burden of making the homes from a limited selection of materials, or suffering through a cold winter with inadequate insulation, and over-crowded conditions. Our homes, nowadays, are our refuge, the places where we go to recover from the onslaughts of the world, to be with our families and friends, and where we create individual places of peace and harmony. French philosopher Gaston Bachelard (1884 -1962,) once said, “If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.

We give thanks for the homes that shelter us, protect us from the weather, encourage us to relax, dream and enjoy the things that are most important to us. We wish your family all the best of the season, and a home which shelters you physically as well as mentally.

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