Thursday, October 30, 2014

Creating a Thanksgiving Celebration

Berg family Thanksgiving play circa 1992

It's almost November and that means Thanksgiving is right around the corner! As faithful readers of this blog know, I love Thanksgiving. This year all the Bergs will be gathering to celebrate it. Since our last Thanksgiving together in 2012, the family has grown by three grandsons and we are all excited to get our little guys together for their first Berg Family Thanksgiving. 

Our family has always done Thanksgiving in a big way. Whether it was a traditional dinner with extended family and friends or a gathering of immediate family, it's the holiday we "do" best. In years past there have been amateur theater productions featuring cousins in Pilgrim costumes. There have been long walks through fall foliage or highly competitive touch-football games before dinner. Dinner has varied from the traditional Turkey feast to a French-style fĂȘte modeled after Babette's Feast. While I may now cringe at the pictures of me in a pilgrim bonnet and we no longer put on theatrical productions, Thanksgiving still holds a very special place in my heart. It's centered on spending time with the people  you love and taking time to reflect with gratitude on the blessings God has so generously bestowed. 

Thanksgiving stories have always played a part in our family's celebrations. From recitations of Five Kernels of Corn to the breathtakingly amazing story of Squanto, the accounts of those who came before us always add meaning and dimension. Today I want to share a few of our favorites with you so that you can read these in the weeks leading up to November 27. 

This sweet book is perfect for introducing the history of Thanksgiving to your youngest children. Dalgliesh's Caldecott Honor title combines lucid text with folksly Americana illustrations by Helen Sewell. Beginning in England the book follows the Pilgrims on their quest for religious freedom to Holland and then to Massachusetts Bay Colony. Their devastating first winter and the help they received from the Natives all pave the way for a day set aside to celebrate God's faithfulness to this little band of brave seekers.

Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness

Gorgeous illustrations accompany this story of Bartholomew, Mary and Remember Allerton. These young siblings relate their adventures aboard the Mayflower, a journey that took sixty days, and learn how difficult it is to carve out a new life in a wild and foreign land. Squanto and Samoset play a starring role in helping the Pilgrims grow their own food. Harness's illustrations and maps provide detailed information on geography, ships, farming and more. 

The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall

A long-time favorite, The Pilgrims of Plimoth is a bit more advanced than the previous two titles but just as lovely and rich with detail. Sewall's illustrations are sumptuous and her text is expertly research while being very approachable. Sewell includes quotes from journals kept by some of the Pilgrims, adding a first-person feel to the text.

Relating the remarkable story of Squanto's life, this book is a whirlwind of adventure. Eric Metaxas is one of our favorite contemporary writers and he does not disappoint with this children's account of Squanto. Many people do not know that when Squanto first approached the Pilgrims he addressed them in English! How did a Massachusetts Native come to learn to speak the Pilgrim's language? Learn about it and in the next title.

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
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.

The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty
The perfect family read-aloud this book tells in detail the story of the Pilgrim's quest to find a place where they could worship God according to their consciences. The Pilgrim's love of freedom played a significant role in the establishment of religious freedom in the States. Their willingness to give up the comforts they enjoyed in England, leaving behind family, friends, and possessions behind is a reminder of what so many have to sacrifice for their faith. 

William Bradford, Pilgrim Boy by Bradford Smith
This lovely book relates the childhood of the famous Pilgrim leader. Learn about his life in rural England and how he came to his strong convictions. Circumstances in his life prepared him for his essential role in the band of Pilgrims and children will enjoy hearing about his adventures as a child.

If you are interested in adding these titles to your library, give us a call at 800.889.1978 and we'll give you free shipping when you order all seven titles! 

All of these books will prepare your family for a Thanksgiving that's truly established on gratitude. One more way to prepare children is to make a Thanks Giving Tree. Ann Voskamp provides a beautiful free printable on her website here. Throughout the month of November, children record things they are thankful for on leaves and attach them to a tree. By the time Thanksgiving comes along you and your family will have cultivated an atmosphere of thankfulness that will be a wonderful blessing. 

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Becca,
    Have a great Berg Thanksgiving! The above books are wonderful and dear, I have read all but Eric Metaxes book. I'm sure its wonderful. Next thing to read on the never ending booklist!! It's wonderful that you can all be together for Thanksgiving, have a great time, it is my favorite holiday as well. Enjoy your Babette's Feast,
    Hugs and love to all your family.