Thanksgiving is a symbol of religious freedom and courage, harvest and abundance, family and traditions, and the beginning of the Christmas season.
Creating the Atmosphere of Thankfulness
Fall is a welcoming time, a time of hospitality, and get-togethers with family and friends. Our homes reflect who lives inside and what we want to communicate to those we entertain. I want those who step through our doors to feel peace and joy, cozy warmth and welcome. After all, it is the people in our lives that matter most.
Pumpkins and Their Pop of Joyful Color
Fall is definitely my favorite time of year. Everything around us declares the goodness of God and His faithfulness. I love to dot our home with punches of orange throughout every season, but especially in the fall with my velvet pumpkins. Without a doubt, the pumpkin is the perfect icon for Thanksgiving traditions, because they represent God’s faithful promises. You plant the seeds in the summer and harvest them in the fall. Unlike tomatoes or green beans, which produce prolifically, pumpkins take time. As a result, their harvest is greatly anticipated. So true of the promises of God. Sometimes His promises take time to come to fruition. Furthermore, pumpkins are carved and a light is placed inside to remind us that the light has come amid the darkness. Additionally, their splash of happy color is a JOYful reminder of thankfulness, bursting forth in a warm, jubilant song.
Our Thanksgiving Tree
In our home, we celebrate Thanksgiving Traditions starting on November 1st. Our Thanksgiving tree holds the reminder to consider each day what we have to be thankful for. On each leaf, the children write, with a chalkboard pen, something they are thankful for. The leaf is placed on the tree. I realize it is a bit backward, as trees in the fall usually lose their leaves as time progresses, but in our house, our leaves miraculously find their way back on the tree. Adding to our Thanksgiving tree is a holiday favorite. Plus, it holds sentimental value as it was a project with my girls, my mother-in-law, and my grandma when she came out for a visit one year.
When the weather plunges into its winter temperatures and the fog rolls in, blanketing the hillsides, I begin to crave Christmas music. My heart longs for the traditions that pull us together and unite our hearts. But…I am not allowed. My family is adamant that Thanksgiving must have its own season. Autumn is my favorite time of year and thus, deserves its own soundtrack. All that to say, this forced me to search for music appropriate for Thanksgiving that encouraged cozy comfort and would help establish a soundtrack to fall that would bind our hearts and embed the traditions they would carry on with their own families someday. Here are a few of our favorite albums:
- Libera: Angels Sing
- Little Women Soundtrack
- Poldark Soundtrack
- Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack
- Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember book with accompanied audio CD by Barbara Rainey
- Harvest Home by Jay Ungar & Molly Mason
- Colonial America: Hesperus: Early Music Ensemble
- We Gather Together: 14 Thanksgiving Hymns
The Original Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Indians
Although most foods we eat today are a far-off representation of the original Thanksgiving feast, the purpose remains the same. The original Pilgrims and Indians gathered together in celebration of the harvest as well as their gratitude for their survival. Their first winter upon landing at Plymouth was brutal, resulting in many deaths. Over seventy-eight percent of the women perished from sickness leaving mostly men, children, and teenagers behind. They were originally set to land south, in Florida, but were taken off course, landing in the more harsh climate of the north. They were not prepared.
Thankfully, God’s Providential hand was upon them, bringing an Indian, Samoset, who spoke English, to teach them how to survive and thrive in their new home. He taught them how to plant corn and how to navigate the area. They had much to be thankful for on that first Thanksgiving of 1621.
With only about fifty colonists in attendance at the first Thanksgiving feast, more than likely they were outnumbered two to one by their new Indian neighbors, the Wampanoag Indians, and their chief, Massasoit. The Indians brought with them much game to share. The colonist hunted fowl and fished for cod, lobster, mussels, and clams, which were plentiful in the area. With the help of the Indians, they probably harvested corn, made into porridge, onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots, and pumpkins. Potatoes were not a popular tuber yet, so it is very unlikely that they had their mashed potatoes and gravy. Also, they foraged blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries, and cranberries. Unfortunately, sugar and flour were scarce, as well as no cattle to provide milk for butter, so it wasn’t likely they had any pies or sweetened cranberry sauce.
- Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
- Holiday Potato Quiche
- Cinnamon Rolls
Thanksgiving Dinner & Dessert
Although Thanksgiving meal is not my favorite of the year, the concept of gathering what has been grown and harvested and preparing them into delicious traditional dishes floats my boat. I can’t think of any other meal that composes so many different side dishes, takes days and days to prepare, and then is consumed in a matter of minutes. Strange thought if you are making a giant meal for a small gathering.
In honor of the first Thanksgiving, the idea of everyone bringing a dish to share and contributing to the meal was the original idea. It is a meal meant to be shared both in the work as well as in the consumption. Truthfully, I have to say that now that my children are growing up, I enjoy holiday meals so much more with all the helping hands. It is one thing to have a small child “helping” and an older child prepare a dish on their own. Needless to say, the training years of helping our young children “help” us in the kitchen pays off when they are older and capable of preparing their favorite sides all on their own… yet together in the kitchen. Divide and concur. Visit and make memories. Hold on families with little ones, your faithful work and training will bring much fruit.
- Fermented Citrus & Spice Cranberry Chutney
- Crispy Brussels sprouts with Lemon & Garlic Aioli
- Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
- Roasted Beets with Balsamic Glaze and Fresh Herbs
- Spiced Cranberry Hibiscus Sauce
- Creamed Corn
- Abby’s Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes
- Coconut Green Beans
- Sage and Chestnut Sourdough Stuffing
- Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
- Turkey or Roast Chicken
- Prophetic Dinner Rolls (Sourdough Apple and Rosemary Dinner Rolls)
- Pumpkin Pie or if I am having trouble with the crust I make Pumpkin Custard🙂
- Apple Pie
For Heavy Meals Such as this I Recommend:
- Board and Card Games
- A Traditional Family Photo
- Tomahawk and Knife Throwing
- Annual Kickball game
- Reading and Watching Primary Sources- Charlie Brown and Monumental (see below)
- 5 Kernels of Corn- everyone is given 5 kernels of corn, symbolizing the severe rations the Pilgrims were given on certain days to survive. Food was so scarce, but they had faith and were grateful. We go around the table one at a time and say something we are grateful for as we drop a kernel of corn into our bowl.
A Toast from our family to yours…Happy Thanksgiving
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Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember book with accompanied audio CD by Barbara Rainey (our favorite Thanksgiving Soundtrack)