The History Of Thanksgiving Essay

940 words - 4 pages

No matter how many times I hear the different stories out there that have to do with Thanksgiving, it is still a bit confusing for me, only because I feel that no one really knows the truth about Thanksgiving. In the mean time I will write what I know, not what I feel.Each year at this time school children all over America are taught the official Thanksgiving story, and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines devote vast amounts of time and space to it. It is all very colorful and fascinating. It is also very deceiving. This official story is nothing like what really happened. Or is it? It is a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving's real meaning.The official story has the pilgrims boarding the Mayflower, coming to America and establishing the Plymouth colony in the winter of 1620-21. This first winter is hard, and half the colonists die. But the survivors are hard working and tenacious, and they learn new farming techniques from the Indians. The harvest of 1621 is bountiful. The Pilgrims hold a celebration, and give thanks to God. They are grateful for the wonderful new abundant land he has given them. The official story then has the Pilgrims living more or less happily ever after, each year repeating the first Thanksgiving. Other early colonies also have hard times at first, but they soon prosper and adopt the annual tradition of giving thanks for this prosperous new land called America.The problem with this official story is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hardworking or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves. In the "History of Plymouth Plantation," the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for tears, because they refused to work in the fields. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with "corruption," and with "confusion and discontent." The crops were small because "much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable."In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, "all had their hungry bellies filled," but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first "Thanksgiving" was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men. But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, "instead of famine now God gave them plenty," "Bradford wrote, " and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God. " Thereafter, he wrote, "any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to...

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