Thanksgiving

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Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing.  Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and  into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

100 Psalms

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The Prophet Joseph is reported to have said at one time that one of the greatest sins for which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty would be the sin of ingratitude. I presume most of us have not thought of that as a serious sin. There is great tendency for us in our prayers -- in our pleadings with the Lord -- to ask for additional blessings. Sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received. Of course we need the daily blessings of the Lord. But if we sin in the matter prayer, I think it is in our lack of the expressions of thanks giving for daily blessings.

Ezra Taft Benson

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Gratitude Untitled

by Amber Coe (c) 1994 all rights reserved

I have so much,

and am thankful

for so little.

  

I am never

satisfied in quest

of more -

  

But content

in what

I posses.

  

May I always

remember

what I am given...

  

Than what

I do not

need.

 

 

 

Give Thanks in ALL Circumstances

Debra Oaks Coe (c) all rights reserved       

When my husband and I had been married only two years, our home teacher brought a Thanksgiving message that gave me a new perspective on giving thanks.  He had been reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.  This is an outstanding book about two sisters, who were true Christians, and how they really learned to rely on their Heavenly Father.  It was their Bible and doing their best to live the teachings contained in it that helped them through some of the worst of human conditions.  

Corrie and her sister were prisoners in a concentration camp with wrenched conditions.  they had already survived so much, but the conditions of the final barracks were well beyond what they thought they could bare -- including a thick infestation of fleas in the straw they were to sleep on.  Corrie turned to her sister and cried, "Betsie, how can we live in such a place!"  Immediately Betsie began to pray and soon the answer cam to her.  They had read it in the Bible just that morning "Give thanks in all circumstances."  Betsie was sure this was the answer.  Corrie recounted the scene as follows:                                                                                                            

"Betsie Said, "We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about his new barracks" 
I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul aired room.   "Such as?" I said.
"Such as being assigned her together."
I bit my lip, "Oh Yes, Lord Jesus!"
"Such as what you're holding in your hands."
I looked down at the Bible.  "Yes!  Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all the women here in this room who will meet You in these pages."
"Yes," said Betsie.  "Thank You for the very crowding here.  Since we're packed so close, that many more will hear.  She looked at me expectantly, "Corrie!" she prodded.
"Oh, all right.  Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds."
"Thank you," Betsie went on serenely, "for the fleas and for--"
The FLEAS!! This was too much.  Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea."
"'Give thanks in All circumstances,'" she quoted.   "It doesn't say in pleasant circumstances.  Fleas are part of this place where God has put us."
And so we stood between piers to bunks and gave thanks for fleas.   But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.

    Because they began from that moment on the to thank instead complain, they had positive attitudes and became a very positive influence on the others in their barracks.  As their world grew blacker with evil outside the barracks, their world inside (even with the fleas) became brighter until it became as a literal Heaven on earth despite the conditions.   What made the difference?   They read the Bible, no just to themselves, but to those around them; soon all gathered at the end of everyday to hear the word of God.  Even more important they all tried to apply the teachings as they looked for light in a black world.  Many came unto Christ as a result.  The women in the barracks quit being rude and mean to each other and replaced it with love and kindness. 

Normally these barracks had surprise inspections where their precious Bible that brought so much light and strength would normally have been seized.  Miraculously, they never had such inspections.   Much later they found out it was because their barracks were so flea infested that the guards dared not inter.  The fleas allowed them to have God's Word for their strength and their hope.  Upon learning this, Corrie very humbly knelt and truly thanked God for the fleas!

We should also give thanks in all circumstances!  As with Corrie's, we may learn that the very "fleas" that we saw as only a plague to our lives are the very things that allow God to bless us with the things we need most.

Gratitude is more than just being grateful for the good things in life. It is an attitude of happiness and making the best of all circumstances. Life will always be a series of adventures in applying gospel principles, especially that of loving and forgiving all.

 

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Gratitude

Debra Oaks Coe (c) all rights reserved

A few years ago, at Thanksgiving time and we were teaching our children about the pilgrims. As part of this, I read them a biography about Squanto's life. I learned a few things I had never known. When he was about twelve he was taken to England; it is not sure whether this was by force or if he merely agree to go after having been enticed. In any case, Squanto stayed in England for nearly ten years. There he was put on display in a London museum because most people had never seen an Indian before. In general though, people were good to him and he learned to speak English and learned to enjoy many of their customs, and food.

Finally he learned that two ships were sailing together to explore the part of America he was from. Anxious to see his family he sailed on the ship of Captain John Smith who had started the colony of Virginia. I can only imagine his excitement and anticipation.

When the ship landed, he set off on foot toward the area of his tribe. But his dream of seeing his family came to an abrupt halt as he was suddenly taken captive by Captain Thomas Hunt, the captain of the other ship. He was tied up and put in a dark room below deck to be taken to Spain and sold as a slave. Over the next several days, many Indians were kidnapped and put with Squanto. Never again would the tribes of these Indians trust white man as a seed of hatred was planted by the kidnappings.

In Spain, two monks helped Squanto escape and get on a ship to London where he hoped to find someone he knew that might be of help him. Once in London, he went to the house of his friend only to find that the family had moved. Alone, hungry, and without money he went to another house to beg for food. At this house, the man recognized him from when he had been on display at the museum. John Slanie took him in as one of his servants and Squanto stayed with this family for more than three years while he waited and hoped to find a ship to take him back to America.

Finally he met a man named Mr. Dermer who was sailing to New England to explore the area. He agreed to take Squanto with him. This time when he returned to his native land and approached the area where is tribe had been, he found it deserted; the path overgrown with weeds. I imagine he wondered, "Why me?."

It turned out that only two years earlier, a great sickness had killed the entire Patuxets tribe. If he had been there instead of taken back to Europe, he too would have died.

It was only four months later that the pilgrims landed in America and found a very choice place to begin building their new homes. As it turned out, this choice place was there for them because it was the same place Squanto's tribe had been. It was now considered a cursed land because of all the deaths and none of the other Indian tribes wanted it and did not care to fight them for the land. Because of the way the white men had treated the Patuxet, for example the kidnappings, these Indians hated the white men and if this tribe had still been there, they may have killed the Pilgrims.

Instead, only Squanto was left. What a great help and friend he was! Without him, the Pilgrims may not have survived. He was more than willing to help them and even lived with them where he was always available to help. He helped them communicate with the other tribes, which undoubtedly helped to keep peace, taught them to fish, how to grow food in this new country and taught them to cook the many new and strange foods, etc.

Every time I hear this story, I realize what an incredible blessing and surprise the Pilgrims must have had to see this Indian come out of what to them was a vast wilderness and find that he knew and understood both their language and their customs and that he was so willing to help them to learn to live in a totally different environment.

I can only believe that all this was through the hand of God. I doubt Squanto had any idea that his whole life was a great preparation for this great role he would play in the beginning of a new nation; a nation where freedom of religion would be established. It reminds me that many of the experiences of this life may well be for the benefit of others. I should give thanks for what I have and appreciate opportunities to grow, learn and help others. After all, while still on this earth, Squanto never knew the full importance of what he did.

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Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1789

President George Washington

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me to "recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the Service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the single and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, of the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have to acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humble offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all people, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone know to be best.

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The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers
in New England

by Felicia D. Hemans - (1793-1835)

The breaking waves dashed high
On a stern and rock-bound coast,
And the woods against a stormy sky
Their giant branches tossed;


And the heavy night hung dark
The hills and waters o'er,
When a band of exiles moored their bark
On the wild New England shore.


Not as the conqueror comes,
They, the true-hearted, came;
Not with the roll of the stirring drums,
And the trumpet that sings of fame:


Not as the flying come,
In silence and in fear;
They shook the depths of the desert gloom
And their hymns of lofty cheer.


Amidst the storm they sang,
And the stars heard, and the sea;
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang
To the anthem of the free.


The ocean eagle soared
From his nest by the white wave's foam,
And the rocking pines of the forest roared,
This was their welcome home.


There were men with hoary hair
Amidst that pilgrim-band:
Why had they come to wither there,
Away from their childhood's land?


There was woman's fearless eye,
Lit by her deep love's truth;
There was manhood's brow serenely high,
And the fiery heart of youth.


What sought they thus afar?
Bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?
They sought a faith's pure shrine!


Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod;
They have left unstained what there they found,
Freedom to worship God.

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The Mayflower Compact

In ye name of God, Amen. We whose names
are underwritten, the loyall subjects of our
dread soveraigne Lord, King James, by ye
grace of God, of Great Britaine, France, and
Ireland king, defender of ye faith, &.,
haveing undertaken, for ye glory of God, and
advancement of ye Christian faith, and honor
of our king and countrie, a voyage to plant ye
first colonie in the Northerne parts of Virginia,
doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy
in ye presence of God, and one of another,
covenant & combine our selves
togeather into a civill body politick, for our
better ordering & preservation & furtherance
of ye ends aforesaid; and by vertue hearof do
enacte, constitute, and frame such just &
equall lawes, ordinances, acts, constitutions,
& offices, from time to time, as shall be
thought most meete & convenient for ye
generall good of ye Colonie, unto which we
promise all due submission and obedience. In
witnes wherof we have hereunder subscribed
our names at Cap-Codd ye 11. of November,
in ye year of ye raigne of our soveraigne lord,
King James, of England, France, & Ireland ye
eighteenth, and of Scotland ye fiftie-fourth.
Ano. Dom. 1620.

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The First Thanksgiving Proclamation
June 20, 1676

"The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgements he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions:

The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God's Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being perswaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and soulds as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ."

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Thanksgiving Links

Not Just for Kids! The First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Resources

Thanksgiving with Reader's Digest

Classic Recipes, Thanksgiving Stories, Projects and Crafts, etc.

History of Thanksgiving

Good stories of the History of Thanksgiving-- also has some good recipes too.

The First Thanksgiving

Interesting facts about the first Thanksgiving

Plimoth on the Web

Thanksgiving in Amercan Memory

Great Stories of Giving Thanks Over the Years

Primary Sources for the "First Thanksgiving"

First-hand accounts of the first feast at Plymouth, Mass.

The Mayflower Web Pages

This web site has  lot of good information about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims who sailed on it.  Many historical documents.

Thanksgiving as a National Holiday

This web site tells how Thanksgiving became an officially recognized holiday.

Wampanoag History

Wampanoag is the Native American tribe that was so vital to the Pilgrims' lives and were the ones to attend the first Thanksgiving

Teaching About Thanksgiving

This site is very plain.  When I fist went to this page, it seamed like it did not have very much information.  But don't let first appearances fool you! Be sure to scroll down and you will find a wealth of good information and  great ideas for how to teach your children about this Holiday.   It even includes a list of authentic foods to serve -- these are a bit different from our traditional Thanksgiving foods.

The Thanksgiving Turkey

Did the Pilgrims really eat turkey? Find out where this holiday tradition comes from

Giving Thanks!

This web site is excellent if want to know about all kinds of ways to study and understand Thanksgiving.  Also gives a list of wonderful books to read with your children.

Pilgrim Clothing

See what the Pilgrims clothing most likely looked like from Mayflower Web

The Pilgrims' 1621 Thanksgiving

Myths and history of Thanksgiving - includes list of foods Pilgrims ate

Thanksgiving in American History
This site give a good history of Thanksgiving over the years

The Winter of 1620-1621

Stormfax Weather Almanac tells what the Piligrims' first winter was like

 

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Webmaster: Debra Oaks Coe: ddcoe@msn.com 
Copyright 1997
Last modified: September 10, 1998