I'd stuffed many a turkey before I really understood Thanksgiving. Oh sure, I knew we were supposed to be thankful, and once I became a Christian I knew who we were thanking. But it wasn't until I homeschooled some of my children that I really discovered the whole story. Unfortunately, that story keeps getting harder to find.
For years, public schools have left God out of Thanksgiving, teaching instead that the Pilgrims gave a party to thank the Native Americans and Mother Earth. Even more current are claims that the first Thanksgiving was a copy of European harvest festivals, a stolen Native American custom, or just a repetition of thanksgivings offered by other explorers.
But the Pilgrims' own writings and the historical events leading to the first Thanksgiving show the traditional accounts (available in pre-1960 books and encyclopedias) to be authentic. Thanksgiving was not an isolated event, or an imitation of some other event, but a uniquely inspired Christian celebration?the culmination of a long journey of faith during which the Pilgrims relied on God and trusted him through tremendous adversity.
While Thanksgiving often gets lost in the pre-Christmas shuffle, teaching our children the real story of this holiday can make it an opportunity for spiritual growth that our children will cherish for years to come. With a little history, a little creativity, and a sense of fun, Thanksgiving can become one of your family's favorite celebrations.
Tell The Real Story
The Thanksgiving story is more than just the tale of Pilgrims and Indians. It's a portrait of God's hand in bringing people together to accomplish a specific purpose. As you share this story with your children, encourage them to listen for the ways God helped the Pilgrims and guided them through difficult times.1