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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

5 Lessons from the First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims arrived in the New World without a clue about how to survive in this wild place. The Wampanoag Indians, seeing that the white people's numbers decreased day by day, decided to help. Out of this partnership was born the legend of the first Thanksgiving. We can learn a lot from that inaugural feast:

1. Be happy for what we've got. The Pilgrims and Indians laid a spread of the fruits of the land. They were pleased to eat squash and berries and venison. No one whined, "I want goose." But we go to the refrigerator full of ready-to-eat foods, look in and complain that we've nothing to eat.

2. Give gratitude in grand ways. We text "Tx" or "ty." We quickly tap out an email that says, "Thanks :-)." But we rarely give saying "Thank you" the time or effort it took to put on the spread of the first ever feast of giving thanks for the good fortune of one human doing a kindness for another. When was the last time you sent a handwritten thank you note? Or looked another person in the eye and said a sincere thank you? Or sent flowers or a bottle of wine to someone who did something small for you? Or prepared a meal and invited a person who showed you generosity to dine with you?

3. Make the memory of the day better than the actual event. The first Thanksgiving was probably plagued by pesky insects. Someone probably showed up late. Maybe it was cold or it rained or the deer was smaller than desired. Maybe a Pilgrim made a racial slur about Indians or an Indian criticized the way Pilgrims dress. Undoubtedly, there were things that went wrong. Bad blood always shows up for gatherings of this magnitude. But those irritations are not what folks chose to remember about the holiday. The Pilgrims and Indians left us with a lasting sentimental image of a perfect day spent breaking bread with family and friends. We should honor that by maintaining decorum in our own celebrations so that we will remember them fondly.

4. Make new friends. Lots of us live by the motto No New Friends. We're busy and getting to know someone new takes energy. Nurturing a friendship requires attention and time. We might still be on the other side of the pond if the Pilgrims had had the same attitude. New friends refresh us.

5. Celebrate successes. It's tempting to complete one task and immediately move on to the next. Life becomes one long to-do list. We need to remember to take time to celebrate successes big and small with the people who helped us achieve them.

Dang those Indians and Pilgrims were smart!

They are so smart that they never would have missed an opportunity like this:

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2 comments:

William Kendall said...

Well said, Lucy!

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Jo said...

Your list was well thought out and probably very true about the first Thanksgiving. We all tend to ignore what went before and expect things to be perfect every time.

Wish I was celebrating - we used to have a great time when we live in NC with all the friends who came to share our feast. I love to entertain. Others have family though and we do not, well not in Canada anyway.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Lucy.

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