If you are like me, as you prepare this year’s Thanksgiving feast, you are holding dear the memories of Thanksgivings past. Many of my reminiscences have to do with our grandchildren around our dining room table. How they love turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, corn from the garden and pumpkin, pecan or apple pie a la mode.
Cranberries? Not so much – not yet.
We have four of the little darlings (none of them little anymore) and when each of them came into our lives to bless us immeasurably, I started a file on them. Stuffed in four manila folders in the top drawer of a two-drawer file cabinet are such things as the first pictures they drew at our house, their programs, recitals and plays we’ve attended, loving notes they left behind and poems they’ve written.
This week, I took a trip down memory lane as I looked through Amelia’s file. She’s in her second year of college now. I remember when she started school and had learned to read and write, her mom and dad sometimes insisted she go outside to play. She would rather have curled up with a good American Girl novel or a Nancy Drew mystery.
I recall that during one Thanksgiving visit here, Amelia checked out seven books from East Grand Forks Campbell Library. And when she stopped reading she asked, “Grandma, can I use your computer?”
Never had I heard such swiftly clicking keys. Never had I witnessed chapters flowing from within a little person at such a rapid rate.
I believe Amelia was about 9 that year. As I planned our Thanksgiving dinner, she had my PC keyboard just a sizzling, so I suggested she write a Thanksgiving story. No sooner said than done.
The little thinker wrote a tale from the perspective of Pilgrim children who had come with their parents across the ocean from England on the Mayflower.
Amelia titled it, “A Thanksgiving Story.” It’s been in her file all this time and today, I share it with my readers.
Chapter 1: The Mayflower
Ten year old Maggie climbed on board the Mayflower. She knew it would be a long journey. Her friend, Sarah, held Maggie’s hand tightly while Maggie’s 4-year old brother, Peter, was very excited. “Aren’t you excited Maggie?”
“Well, Peter, I don’t really know,” said Maggie, who wished she was excited like Peter and her 14-year-old brother, Lars.
Lars asked Maggie the same question. “Aren’t you excited?”
“I don’t know,” Maggie said. Sarah said, “I think Maggie and I are scared because who knows what will happen? We could be lost at sea. Our ship could sink. Don’t you get it?”
Peter looked sad. Maggie sighed. “Come on Sarah,” she said thinking, “maybe it won’t be so bad.”
But of course Maggie was wrong for soon Mama said she might have another baby and there was no doctor. Papa had said, “We might lose food.” To Maggie and Sarah, it was no adventure. Could it be a nightmare?
Maggie made another friend, Becky, a servant on the boat. Sometimes Maggie and Sarah would sneak food for Becky. One day something wonderful and terrible happened at the same time. Mama had a baby girl, which she named Bell, and once the baby was born a man shouted, “No more food.”
The happiness was gone.
Maggie and Sara gasped. It wasn’t their fault. It was the rats. The rats on board had eaten the food. It was horrible. Maggie wished she had never come.
Chapter 2: Journey On
Maggie’s stomach groaned. She felt like she was starving. How could they do this? Sarah, her best friend, had become very sick. Could Mama get sick next?
The sea seemed to last forever. No turning back. Maggie tried to remember her old house, but couldn’t. She tried to imagine what her new house would be like.
Maggie went to check on Sarah who was still very sick. “Sarah,” Maggie said, “Think about our new house. It will be just like the one we had before, probably. And don’t worry, it probably won’t be a log cabin.”
Chapter 3: Home at Last
“Land,” a sailor called out. “Land at last,” Maggie thought. “I heard from the sailors there are Indians,” Peter said. “What?” Maggie said. “We come this far and we get welcomed by Indians?”
Peter laughed. “I want to be friends with Big Foot.”
Soon they were ashore. The women unloaded blankets and the men started building houses. “Are we going to live in a log cabin Papa?” Maggie asked. “Why of course,” Papa said. “On dear, Papa,” Maggie said. “What’s oh dear?” Papa asked. “Oh father, we will live in the wilderness. It will be dreadful. What if Indians come?”
Papa didn’t answer. Instead he said, “Where is Peter?”
Lars came out of breath, “I can’t find him anywhere,” he said. “I think he went to the Indian camp. He thinks he will make friends with Big Foot.”
“Oh dear,” Maggie said. “We must go and bring him back now,” Lars said.
Maggie and Lars ran through the woods. They saw Peter starring at an Indian village. “Isn’t it so cool?” Peter said.
“Peter David Johnson,” Maggie said. “How dare you run off without telling us.” Suddenly an Indian spied them from their hiding place on a cliff.
“I don’t see why we can’t be friends with the Indians,” Peter said.
Sarah’s house was done quickly because Sarah was sick. Papa made a table and a bench. He carved a bed and Mama sewed blankets.
When Maggie’s house was done, she sat outside watching the stars. Mama put Bell to bed in the carved cradle Papa had made. Papa made many things out of wood. Everyone had a bed and Papa made a table and chairs and a cupboard and was helping the men make stores.
One day an Indian came to what they had named, Smith Town. Two stores had been built, a general store with food and a bakery with sweets from England.
When the Indian saw this he was surprised at what the white folk had done. He saw four houses. One belonged to Maggie and her family, one to Sarah, one to Becky and her family and another to Mr. and Mrs. Jackson.
The Indian went to Sarah’s house and sold medicine to Sarah’s mother. Sarah tried the medicine. She got better quickly and went to Maggie’s house.
Mama answered the door. “Why Sarah,” she cried. “I’m so glad you feel better.”
That night, two other stores were made, one with blankets and pillows and one with coal. In a week, they made a church.
Chapter 4: Smith Town – My Home
There was a dance at Smith Town and a man shouted, “Now all of us have homes.” Two other houses were made, for the baker, Mr. Fisher, and for the storekeeper, Mr. Howard and his wife, Julia. A school was made. Mrs. Howard was the teacher.
Everyone made friends with the Indians. The Indians taught them how to grow things so they wouldn’t starve when it was winter.
They made a holiday called, Thanksgiving, and it was the happiest time for the Pilgrims.
Chapter 5: Happy
The next day they all went to church. To Maggie, everything was peaceful and quiet and nice. They had everything they needed. It was so nice to know everyone was happy. Oh what a wonderful time it was.
That night they sat around the bonfire Papa made. It felt wonderful, but pretty soon they had to go in because of the wolves. Peter got scared of the wolves. Maggie told him not to worry. They went in and said their prayers and of course they went to bed. The next morning, the Indians came for Thanksgiving. Everyone was happy and thankful as they sat down to the feast. The Indians brought corn and blueberries. Mama got a big turkey and all of us ate. We were home, home in Smith Town.
Home – wherever home is for you, be it Smith Town, or downtown, may your life be full of both thanks and giving.