The Meaning of Thanksgiving

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It seems the true story of Thanksgiving is a lot different than the story  most of us are taught in school. We are taught that the hapless Pilgrims arrived on Plymouth Rock quite by accident and by luck. Bringing with them syphilis and gonorrhea, environmental destruction, racism, and sexism,  they had no clue as to how they were going to survive.

No doubt the Indians were a big help that first cold, long winter, without their help the Pilgrims would have no doubt perished. The Pilgrims were taught how to grow food in this new land, how to hunt and fish and even make popcorn, thus providing a source of income for Orville Reddenbacher many generations down the road.

Clearing the way for the first Thanksgiving, the killing and cleaning and dressing of wild animals, such as turkeys was taught. Thus, the “first” Thanksgiving was prepared to give thanks for the bountiful harvest. That is the “true story taught to children in most schools, however, that is not all that happened.

William Bradford , the original Governor of the colony writes as to what actually happened.
This was hundreds of years ago, there were no turnpikes, Wal-Marts, large grocery stores, or other conveniences we have today, not even heat in their homes.
When the Pilgrims arrived, it was barren and cold, there was disease, pestilence, and many hardships. It was first decided to set up a form of socialism, everyone was given a plot of land and whatever was produced would go into a common granary. Based on fairness and great compassion you were to put in what you had and take out only what you needed. The fruits of everyone’s labor would be enjoyed by all. Marx and Obama would be proud!!

Great idea, however, human nature soon reared its ugly head. There were slackers amongst the Pilgrims, who would have thunk it!

It didn’t take them long to realize they didn’t have to do anything in order to get what they wanted from the common store. Other people were carrying the weight, and doing all the work.

It didn’t take long for Governor Bradford to realize that this wasn’t going to work. Resentment was quickly growing against the slackers. Not only were they not producing, they were taking more than they needed.
They felt entitled, after all, they were just going by the rules, there wasn’t any rule stating they had to do anything.

Among the problems  the people weren’t allowed to specialize, some weren’t good at farming, all they could do was clean up manure, others were able to manage and grow crops by using the manure to fertilize the land, some even had business skills whereby they could run a mercantile store or other business.

Bradford soon realized this wasn’t working, and changed his policy, he gave everyone a plot of land and told them to do with it what they wanted, specifying that they keep whatever they produced. It was decided that whatever surplus there was, they could sell. After that the Pilgrims began to prosper and thus began sharing their “wealth ” with
the Indians. In turn the Indians shared their knowledge with the Pilgrims, kind of a joint exchange of ideas that only capitalism, free markets, and free enterprise can supply.

The true lesson of Thanksgiving is, give thanks to God, thanks to God for showing the Pilgrims how to survive and prosper in this new barren,
unknown land, not by giving free handouts to others, but allowing each person to prosper by providing the opportunity to excel with whatever talents and abilities one  has.

The author has been a writer/photographer for over thirty years. Specializing in nature and landscape photography, as well as studying native cultures.

His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.

He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.

He has published several books about his adventures.

For more information, please consult his website,

Your comments welcome



There is an extreme shortage of common sense in today’s world, When looking back in history, I soon discovered this has always been a problem, Benjamin Franklin once said, ”Of all the senses, common sense seems to be the one that is used the least.” As obvious as it may seem, many seem to be totally oblivious to it. Most, if not all of the problems the world faces today could be solved if people would just sit back and think about what would seem to be the most obvious and simple solution to any issue. Often times people tend to overcomplicate the issues. I often think back to what my parents and grandparents believed and said, at the time I thought they were totally out of their mind and ignored it. I now wish I would have listened and followed their advice. It is now evident they were a lot smarter than we gave them credit for. Many times, in today’s world, the schools and universities can no longer be counted on to teach truth and values that will guide someone through life.




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