Thanksgiving childIn 1620, a boat packed with over one hundred people that were FED UP with religious suppression by the Church of England, and were seeking new opportunities, set off on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in the New World.

Their original destination was somewhere in Virginia, but they were wildly blown off course due to storms at sea, and after a grueling sixty-six days being tossed around they ocean, they finally landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

They arrived in America exhausted, hungry and weak… and too late in the year to grow crops.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Without proper nourishment to revive and fortify them, forty six of the original one-hundred and two people died that first winter due to disease and starvation.

In the spring, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received a visit from an Abenaki Indian that spoke English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe.

Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, beans, pumpkin and squash. He also taught them how to extract sap from maple trees, catch fish from the streams and hunt. Squanto helped the settlers forge an alliance with the local tribe, the Wampanoag.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first successful corn harvest, the governor organized a celebratory feast that lasted three days!

Grateful for food, and ultimately grateful for life, they invited their Indian friends to join the celebration. Later, this became known as the first Thanksgiving.

If it weren’t for the generosity and spirit of the American Indians, the Pilgrims might not have survived at all.

The original Thanksgiving meal promoted health and life on many levels. They grew and harvested local, seasonal foods, and everything was freshly prepared with the intention of sharing and “gratefulness.”

When sitting down to your Thanksgiving meal (or any meal!) remember to give thanks to all the elements involved in the making of it; the rain that watered the field, the sun that nourishes all life on the planet (animal, vegetable, human), the farmer that tended to the crops, the earth that endlessly shares her bounty with us, the recipes passed down from generation to generation and of course, the person that lovingly and graciously prepared the meal.

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

I’m grateful that this year… I don’t have to cook! My friend Nick Oddo is preparing a feast. Woo hoo!

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and delicious Thanksgiving.