Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Season of Thanks

     I have three books I  love to read to my children before Thanksgiving. 
     Every year, until last year, I took time out from the current history study and read aloud, Stories of the Pilgrims (notice, you can buy used for only a penny).  Ally and I knitted with vigor after reading of wee pilgrim girls knitting as they walked to school.  I love that the author realizes that the Pilgrims left Holland for the sake of their children.  If you think, like I did for so many years, that the Pilgrims landed on these shores only for religious freedom, you've only heard part of the tale.  This year I'm having my kids read it on their own and learn to love it for themselves.
     The other two books we love, I have to love reservedly.  Alice Dalgliesh's  The Thanksgiving Story is a 1954 classic, simple and clear.  Yet, I'm always disappointed to read her conjecture that the Indians may have understood the Thanksgiving prayer, because they had a prayer of their own, giving thanks to their "God" for the harvest.  If only she hadn't felt it necessary to capitalize that! 
     Cheryl Harness' Three Young Pilgrims is a visual feast with astonishing detail.  Learn the Indian tribes, the name of every Saint and Stranger on the Mayflower, which ones died they first winter, and the exact point they landed in the New World.  You can spot William Bradford's home in the drawing of Leyden Street, or, of more interest to the boys, the fort.  I read it yesterday with Arden.  Of course, my little naval hero was in rapture over the details of the ship.  The disappointment is that in a book dedicated to the Pilgrims, and in which the author acknowledges the "life and writings of William Bradford," someone was notably absent.  William Bradford's God was mentioned only in passing, and it is my suspicion that Bradford would be disappointed.  I read to Arden that the Pilgrims invited the Indians to feast and "offer prayers of thanksgiving to the Maker...."  I pause and ask, "Who do you think the Maker is?"  Thoughtfully, he answers, "The Indian."  The reference is just a little too veiled for a four year old.  And I answered, "No, who made the Pilgrims?"  That was easy, "God."  Bryan thought it was funny to recommended I just read aloud, Of Plimoth Plantation.
     And so we prepare for Thanksgiving, as Margaret Pumphrey wrote, a time to
"... rest from our work and spend the time in gladness and thanksgiving.  God has been very good to us."

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