The Border Collie Chronicles

Observations from (arguably) the World's Smartest Dogs;
(but, without question, the bestest friends!)
or, Life As We Understand It, as told from dad's shop.

Posted November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

By Bubba


To one and all … that’s what I (and everyone else on this place) wish for all of you!


But what does this holiday really mean?  I did a little researching on the ol’ world wide web and I now think that I am even more confused than ever …


Let’s start with the definition[i]:

thanksgiving  [thangks-giv-ing] /ˌθæŋksˈgɪv ɪŋ/


1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.

2. an expression of thanks, especially to God.

3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.

4. a day set apart for giving thanks to God.

5. (initial capital letter) Thanksgiving Day.


The First Thanksgiving[ii]:

For many of us, Thanksgiving usually includes eating too much, long weekends, football games, watching floats on TV, family reunions, and/or the deer lease.  The way I understand it is that the first Thanksgiving wasn’t a feast, or even a holiday – it was just a simple gathering.  After the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth Rock on November 11, 1620, the pilgrims who didn’t have any shelter and whose immune systems were weakened by the long sea voyage, began to get sick.  With no effective medicines, they began to die.  Toward the end of March, when the worst was over, they had lost 47 (almost half) of their number. 


But God’s greatest miracle for them was on its way!  On March 16th, 1621, a lone Indian, clad only in a loincloth, walked boldly up to them and said: “Welcome, Englishmen!”  After the Pilgrims had recovered from this surprise, they had found out that his name was Samoset, and that he had come from Massasoit.  The following week he appeared again, this time bringing with him a Patuxet Indian by the name of Tisquantum (you may remember him from elementary school as Squanto), who as William Bradford would write, was “a special instrument sent of God for their good, beyond their expectation.”  It is interesting to note that Squanto was taken as a slave by the English when he was a young man!


Squanto offered them his services, and they were invaluable.  He taught them how to trap eels in the mud flats of the bay, what berries were edible, what herbs were good for medicine, and how to trap beaver, which would later become a source of income for the Pilgrims.  Most important of all, he taught them how to plant corn, and plant it the Indian way — by burying fish pieces with the seed, to fertilize the seedlings as they grew.


That October, when the corn that the Pilgrims had planted – under Squanto’s tutelage – was harvested, they were all so happy that they wanted to have a party!  Of course, they invited their new Indian friends and tutors to the party as well.  The Indians showed up a day early, and over 90 braves, plus women and children.  The Pilgrim women’s hearts must have sunk, because they were going to have to use the corn stored up for the winter to feed this crowd!  However, Massasoit had thought ahead and brought with them venison and turkey to munch on.  They also brought fish from the bay, berries and other fruits, and roasted corn.  The Pilgrim women supplied vegetables from their gardens.  The party is reported to have lasted three days, complete with bow and arrow shooting contests, foot races, and relay races.  It was a good and peaceful time for whites and Indians together.


I suspect that there were several times during the party that the Pilgrims stopped to thank the Lord for sending Squanto to teach them how to make it in the new land.  God had sent this American Indian, who spoke English fluently, ate English foods, understood English customs and ways, and knew about the Christian faith because of his time with the Spanish monks (who had freed him from slavery and taught him Catholicism) – he was the right man, in the right place, at the right time.


Another View Of The First Thanksgiving[iii]:

Another version has it that the Pilgrims wanted to create a community that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism.  Their goal was the communism of Plato’s “Republic,” in which everyone would work and share everything in common – they would not own any private property and self-interested acquisitiveness[iv] was not permitted.


The Guv – that’d be William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony – kept a diary where he reports that the colonists collectively cleared and worked all of the land, but that first year they didn’t yield much crops and that the process didn’t really create the Utopian spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood.  He went on to explain that the less industrious members of the colony came to work late and weren’t all that interested in putting in a full day’s work!  They knew that under the plan, they and their families, were to receive an equal share of whatever the group as a whole produced; therefore, they saw little reason to be more diligent in their efforts.  The harder working among the colonists became just a little resentful that their efforts would be redistributed to the more malingering members of the colony.  Soon they, too, were coming late to work and were less energetic in the fields.


As the Guv explained:  “For the young men that were able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children, without recompense.  The strong, or men of parts, had no more division of food, clothes, etc. then he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice.  The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labor, and food, clothes, etc. with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignant and disrespect unto them.  And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc. they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could husbands brook it.”


Because of the disincentives and resentments that spread among all of the folks, crops were sparse and therefore, the rationed equal shares from the collective harvest were not enough to ward off starvation and death.  Two years of communism in practice had left alive only a fraction of the original number of the Plymouth colonists.


The elders of the new colony figured that another season like the ones that they had previously had would likely mean the extinction of the entire community, so they decided to do something CRAZY:  they introduced private property rights and the right of the individual families to keep the fruits of their own labor.  As a result, the Plymouth Colony experienced bountiful crops!  Private ownership meant that there was now a close link between work and reward.  When the harvest time came, not only did many families produce enough for their own needs, but also they had surpluses that they could freely exchange with their neighbors for mutual benefit and improvement.


Following Thanksgivings:

After that first one … the next “thanksgiving” meal would not be celebrated again until June of 1676.  On June 29 the community of Charlestown, Massachusetts proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for their good fortune.  Ironically, this celebration excluded the Indians, as the colonists’ recognized their recent victory over the “heathen natives.”  One hundred years later, in October of 1777, all 13 colonies participated in a one-time “thanksgiving” celebration which commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga.  George Washington proclaimed it a National holiday in 1789, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November in 1863, and Congress sanctioned it as a legal holiday in 1941.


In the Bible, the meaning of thanksgiving reflected adoration, sacrifice, praise, or an offering.  Thanksgiving was a grateful language to God as an act of worship.  Rarely, if ever, was thanksgiving extended to any person or thing, except God.  “These things I remember as I pour out my soul; how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng”.[v]

Yeah, it seems that the meaning of Thanksgiving has undergone numerous transitions (and interpretations) – an expression of gratitude for survival, a council’s recognition of its flourishing community, submission of the local natives, the defeat over the British – all of which result in a collection of our nation’s traditions and values.  Over the centuries, families added their customs to the Thanksgiving celebration, preserving that which they held most precious.  While dad doesn’t have any overpowering Thanksgiving memories growing up (other than being welcomed at Toy and Joe’s home on a number of occasions) – Mom-D reminisces fondly of Thanksgiving meals at the deer lease with all of her family around, especially her Grandpa!


Maybe Thanksgiving is just to gather in unity – it’s good and invigorating when people come together, in celebration of a common purpose.  A reconciliation of differences, as well as, a time of healing.  In sharing our victories as well as our struggles, we find strength and hope.  We humbly reflect upon all of the gifts (family, friends, health) that saturate our lives.  By “giving-thanks” we can extend ourselves and give to others less fortunate.  Out of the abundance of our hearts, we are able to offer our resources to help others.


Just something to ponder on while you watch the Cowboys whip the Redskins (kinda like the 1676 Thanksgiving!)!!  Just sayin’!










Some Final Thanksgiving Thoughts:



Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday...The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production.

Ayn Rand



I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.

Ralph Waldo Emerson



The mellow sweetness of pumpkin pie off a prison spoon is something you will never forget.

Mitchell Burgess



On Thanksgiving Day all over America, families sit down to dinner at the same moment - halftime.






[iv] Acquisitiveness describes the greed to increase one's possessions, to acquire, hoard and save.  It can be aimed on material or immaterial fields, depending on the development of other faculties.  


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