Friday, November 01, 2013

November means Thanksgiving!

It's November! I love November because it means that Thanksgiving is around the corner and autumn has firmly settled into place. In Florida that means that we can turn off the AC for the first time in months but the only seasonal color is the red cups popping up at Starbucks. Regardless, I love Thanksgiving. As it falls late in the month this year (the 28th!), I wanted to get right on top of sharing some ideas for celebrating this uniquely North American holiday. 

Of course, the first thing I'm going to recommend is that you start reading books about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving celebration. Here's some of our favorites:

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
The Thanksgiving Story "is the only really distinguished book we have on that holiday. Miss Dalgliesh has told the Pilgrim story simply from the point of view of the Hopkins family whose little Oceanus was born on the Mayflower; and Miss Sewell has made wonderful full-color pictures. A beautiful book." -The Horn Book

The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall
When the pilgrims set out for America, they brought with them a dream for the future. Sickness, hardship, and heartache stood in the way of that dream. But the pilgrims worked hard, keeping their dream close to their hearts, until they were finally able to make it come true. Marcia Sewell's text draws on journal entries from the Pilgrims and recreates their lives in striking detail. Beautiful illustrations accompany the text. This book is currently on sale on our website! Save 22% off retail. 

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas
This title, by one of our favorite contemporary authors, tells the amazing story of Squanto and how God used tragedy in his life to save the Pilgrims. A wonderful story of redemption and friendship.

The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty
In England in the early 1600s, everyone was forced to join the Church of England. Young William Bradford and his friends believed they had a right to belong to whichever church they wanted. In the name of religious freedom, they fled to Holland, then sailed to America to start a new life. But the winter was harsh, and before a year passed, half the settlers had died. Yet through hard work and strong faith, a tough group of Pilgrims did survive. Their belief in freedom of religion became an American ideal that still lives on today. Based mainly on William Bradford's personal diary, this is a must-read for all who are interested in knowing more about the Pilgrims.

Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey
This 1910 publication has been newly edited and expanded to include a horizontal history of the world of the Pilgrims of the early 17th century. This replaces the formerly titled Stories of the Pilgrims used in our Early American History Primary Study Guide. Now children will learn not only the faithful saga of the Separatist's struggle for religious freedom, but also that young Rembrandt was just learning to walk when the Pilgrims arrived in Leiden, that Galileo was fighting his own battle for religious and scientific freedom, and that William Brewster served as clerk to Queen Elizabeth's secretary until the ill-fated execution of Elizabeth's half sister, Mary. Historical figures from around the world will see the Pilgrim's heroic struggle in a more meaningful context. With whimsical illustrations by Christen Blechschmid, children and parents alike will see the world as the Pilgrims saw and lived it.

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
An ideal introduction to this important segment of the Pilgrim story, This account is among the best we've seen it tells the amazing story of Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, who went to London with some of the first English explorers, was sold into slavery in Spain, and finally returned to America where he befriended the Pilgrims when they landed.

Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
A beautifully illustrated book which relates the personal story of the Allerton family from the perspective of young Bartholomew, Mary and Remember. These elaborate watercolors with detailed maps, time lines and tender depictions of Pilgrim life will be a treasured addition to your family library.

William Bradford, Pilgrim Boy by Bradford Smith
This book will tell you all about the brave man who led the Pilgrims in their quest for the freedom to worship God in the matter they saw fit to. Orphaned at a young age, William Bradford was formed by forces which were providentially preparing him for the great call upon his life. Follow his life from his boyhood in Scrooby, England through the years when he led the Pilgrims as the first governor of Plimoth Plantation.

Image from
Once you have the reading down, it's time to get into the spirit of Thanksgiving. By setting aside time each day this month to recognize things for which you are grateful, Thanksgiving will take on an entirely new dimension. One of the best ways to do this is to make a Thankful Tree. Tia over at the blog, Events to Celebrate, has a beautiful idea for constructing a Thankful Tree. Check it out here. Once you have made the tree each family member adds a leaf on which they've written something they're thankful for. By the time Thanksgiving comes around, you have a beautiful tree bursting with all the blessings we can so often take for granted. 

As you get closer to the big day, it may be fun to do some research on the lives of the Pilgrims and Native children who lived in and around the Pilgrim village. To do so, check out Pilmoth Plantation's website. There is a whole section of activities for kids including games, recipes, a chance to investigate the first Thanksgiving, and much more.
 Another way to incorporate gratitude into the entire month is to recite some traditional Thanksgiving prayers. There are so many wonderful ones and you can easily find them by doing a Google search. To get you started, here are a few of my favorites:

Traditional Thanksgiving Hymn
We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to his name: He forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side, All glory be thine!

We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
-A translation by Theodore Baker, 1851-1934
Thanksgiving Prayer
Heavenly Father, on Thanksgiving Day
We bow our hearts to You and pray.
We give You thanks for all You've done
Especially for the gift of Jesus, Your Son.
For beauty in nature, Your glory we see
For joy and health, friends and family,
For daily provision, Your mercy and care
These are the blessings You graciously share.
So today we offer this response of praise
With a promise to follow You all of our days.
-Mary Fairchild

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  1. True! My thanksgiving was also superb. We looked a lot for event halls for rent on that day because it was my daughter’s birthday the other day and we had to travel to a different city because of a wedding. It was a different thanksgiving for me this year but I enjoyed a lot.

  2. Thanks for sharing this post with us.Wikivela