Friday, October 29, 2010

A Season of Gratitude

The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket
by Eastman Johnson

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."     ~ John F. Kennedy

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There is no sense of urgency, no crush of commercialism surrounding the day, just family, friends and good food! I am blessed to live in Massachusetts, where the celebration  has its roots, although it's beginning was nothing like the huge feasts we enjoy today. Below are a few pieces of  information to help you understand the history of the holiday.

  • Although they did have a three-day feast in celebration of a good harvest, and the local Indians did participate, this "first Thanksgiving" was not a holiday, simply a gathering.
  • The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating.
  • It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives.
  • The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance. It lasted three days.
  • The term "turkey" was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl."
  • There was no bread or pastries of any kind. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop.
  • There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. There was no domestic cattle for dairy products.
  • The newly-discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous.
  • The feast did include fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.
  • This "thanksgiving" feast was not repeated the following year.
  • George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789
  • It was Sarah Josepha Hale, (author of Mary Had a Little Lamb) a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. After a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863.
  • President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a National Day of Thanksgiving.


Story of Wali Dad the Simple Hearted
From the The Brown Fairy Book, collected by Andrew Lang

Once upon a time there lived a poor old man whose name was Wali Dad Gunjay, or Wali Dad the Bald. He had no relations, but lived all by himself in a little mud hut some distance from any town, and made his living by cutting grass in the jungle, and selling it as fodder for horses. He only earned by this five halfpence a day; but he was a simple old man, and needed so little out of it, that he saved up one halfpenny daily, and spent the rest upon such food and clothing as he required.

In this way he lived for many years until, one night, he thought that he would count the money he had hidden away in the great earthen pot under the floor of his hut. So he set to work, and with much trouble he pulled the bag out on to the floor, and sat gazing in astonishment at the heap of coins which tumbled out of it. What should he do with them all? he wondered. But he never thought of spending the money on himself, because he was content to pass the rest of his days as he had been doing for ever so long, and he really had no desire for any greater comfort or luxury.

At last he threw all the money into an old sack, which he pushed under his bead, and then, rolled in his ragged old blanket, he went off to sleep. To read the rest of the story click here.

Catch the Storybug - For more stories visit my Thanksgiving blog post from October 2009.

The Magic of Muskil Gusha - Iranian folktale adapted and shared by Aaron Shephard - As always, Jackie Baldwin brings a plateful of stories to the feast!

Lord of the Cranes - A folktale about generosity from China.


The First Thanksgiving -
Visit web sites about the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag, and the famous harvest feast and learn new facts along the way.

General Thanksgiving - Proclamation by President George Washington.

Catch the Storybug - For more curriculum connections visit my Thanksgiving blog post from October 2009. 

The National Day of Mourning - Not everyone has the same view of the national holiday of Thanksgiving. For a Native American view go to:

What Do You Eat? -
A lesson unit on comparing how others eat in developing countries.


Thanksgiving Songs and Fingerplays


The Children of the Morning Light: Wampanoag Tales as Told By Manitonquat -A storyteller of the southeastern Massachusetts Wampanoag has retold some of the creation tales of his people -- teaching and ‘pourquoi’ tales that are remarkable for their humor, common sense, and humanity.


How To Plan a Scarecrow Storytime

Word Jumble - Fun, fall word jumble for your students to rearrange!

Fall Word Search