The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims who left their homes in England searching for religious freedom. They lived in a feudal society where the king and lords determined their faith and controlled their lives. They sought freedom to live and worship according to the dictates of their own hearts.
Over half of their group died the first winter in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Sickness and death affected every family, but some survived with the help of friendly Native Americans. After the next fall harvest, the survivors celebrated a time of thanksgiving. Although grieving for the lost ones, they rejoiced with Indian friends in the New World, in their new life.
“Give thanks in all things,” the Lord says. Sometimes this is difficult while going through a storm of life, but being thankful in all circumstances will bring you closer to God.
The follow excerpt is from the novel, Through The Storm by Brenda B Taylor. The novel continues The Wades Of Crawford County saga, following Leann and Ralph through the years of making a life together and raising young children. As with all married couples, they struggled through the storms of life, but drew closer to the Lord and to each other.
“And Sunday we’re going to church,” Ralph told his family. “We’re going to praise the Lord for making us well. I want you kids to get your Sunday clothes ready, and take a good bath Saturday.”
Katy smiled. She loved to dress up and helped Leann wash and press the family’s Sunday garments. Ralph and the boys polished the Sunday shoes and boots. The boys frowned. They didn’t like to bathe, but their mother insisted on a good bath each week with a hair washing, and sometimes in between if they got too dirty.
Bathing took a good deal of time on Saturday night, because Leann insisted each member of the family have fresh water in the tub. She filled a number three washtub with water, then heated water on the stove and added it to the washtub to make a warm bath. She put the tub in a corner of the kitchen and hung blankets around it for privacy. The children bathed first. Since there was not much privacy in the kitchen of their little cabin, Ralph and Leann took their baths after the children went to sleep.
“Do you want us to wash our neck and behind our ears, Papa?” Jesse asked.
Ralph and Leann looked at each other and smiled, trying not to laugh at their son. He was attempting to get ahead of the command Leann gave the children when they bathed. Sometimes those spots were missed.
“Yes, Jesse,” Ralph said. “Be sure to wash behind your ears, and your neck. Dirt sticks in those places when it jumps out on little boys.”
“Dirt don’t jump out on boys, Papa.” Jesse reached up to feel behind an ear.
“I don’t know about all boys, but it sure jumps out on you two.” Ralph winked at Leann.
“You’re fooling me, Papa.” Jesse went to Ralph, searching his eyes for any sign of jesting.
“I’m not fooling, am I Leann?” Ralph stared back at his little son.
“No you aren’t, and we’ll start the baths early to make sure those spots get clean.” Leann knew Jesse and Jim didn’t like to come indoors early to bathe.
“Heck!” Jim said.
“Heck!” Jesse echoed.
Ralph laughed at the boys. Leann went around the table and stood beside him, examining his hair. She smoothed a strand on the back of his head. It went well below his collar.
“Looks like haircuts are overdue. I haven’t paid close attention with everyone being sick.”
Ralph’s smile faded quickly. He disliked sitting still for a haircut more than the boys. “Oh no.”
“Oh no,” the two boys said in unison.
Katy laughed now. Leann rested her hands on Ralph’s shoulders and giggled at the expressions on Jim’s and Jesse’s faces.
“It’s real tough for us men to sit still for haircuts and then be made to take baths,” Ralph told Leann, glancing around at her.
“I can only imagine.” She gave his hair a small pull. He reached up and caught her hand.
“I’m buying us a Sunday dinner at Mrs. McCall’s boarding house,” Ralph said. “We need to celebrate getting over the mumps, and Mama needs a rest after taking care of us.”
“Thank you.” Leann gave him a hug.
The children clamored over each other, trying to hug him. “Thank you, Papa,” they said in unison.
Ralph patted each one on the head and smiled at his children. They were his joy, and a stranger asking Katy questions concerned him greatly. After ten years of having her in his home, she was like his own daughter. For the first few years she lived with them, Leann and he expected her father to return, and guarded their hearts. When Ray didn’t come back, they began to believe she might stay permanently.
“Okay family, time to get on with our work. I’m going to get as much tobacco in the barn before dark as I can. Jim, you and Jesse come and help me. Katy can help Mama.” Ralph rose from the table and put his work hat on.
Leann and Katy began setting the kitchen in order. Leann hummed a hymn from the music he and his pa played earlier. Ralph knew she was pleased they planned to attend church on Sunday after a long absence. He missed the services too.