The moral of Thanksgiving

Once upon a time, the Pilgrims and Native Americans got together for a big fiesta. They ate venison and corn, pumpkins and nuts and delicacies until they were full, giving thanks for a great year together. And that’s how it all started.

But this week my daughter was reading a children’s book about what happened before the beginning of that story. She read about the long winter, the freezing temperatures, the illness, the death. She read that the Pilgrims would slip out into the deep night to bury their dead. They didn’t want the Americans to know how few of them were left.

In the spring, when Samoset and Squanto appeared and scared them half to death (half of them had already died, so I’m telling it to you straight), the Pilgrim’s fears turned out to be unfounded. Instead of bringing terror and destruction, the Native Americans brought vegetable seeds, earth knowledge, sturdy friendship.

Everyone says the moral of Thanksgiving is to be thankful. And it is. The Pilgrims took a deep breath and said, “We made it. Look at this harvest, we’ve stored up what we need for next winter, and we give thanks to God.” But I can’t help thinking about that first dark winter, and the poverty of isolation, the shivering widows standing at the graves of their babies under a chilly moon. God forbid that someone finds out we’re not doing okay. Please, God, don’t let them see us. I’ll just put another shovelful of dirt on top. I’ll wrap my tatters around a weakened body and slip back to my ship in the darkness.

That breaks me.

The Native Americans probably had a hard winter too – I’m not saying they were over there in the wigwams lolling in salted deer meat and corn flour. But they had the wisdom the Pilgrims needed, if the Pilgrims hadn’t been trying so hard not to need it.

Another moral of Thanksgiving, the one we don’t talk about, is this: Stop hiding in the darkness.

Take steps of faith through the night to the wigwam next door and sit down by the fire. We can spend so much time planning our militia that we forget the neighbors are not planning an attack. Incredibly, miraculously, friends are out there waiting: not to pounce and scalp, but to teach, to assist, to care. To help.

That is cause for the best Thanksgiving.


If you’re game, tell me three things you’re thankful for today, including one friend you know you can go to when the venison runs out. This has two purposes: it grows your gratitude, and as a bonus, it helps me to know if the bugs are worked out of my comment section before I offer you another gift on Friday. For this, I am grateful to you. We have every reason for joy: Happy Thanksgiving, dear people.

25 thoughts on “The moral of Thanksgiving

  1. Hi Shari,
    I saw your blog listed on the blog tour and I wanted to check it out. Three things I’m thankful for
    1. A home. This past weekend we were in Phoenix and we saw so very many homeless people. It made me wonder what had led to their despair and such horrible circumstances.

    2. My family. Oh how how my heart breaks for those who lost their loved ones in all the senseless violence the past few months. I think of one family in the church shooting who lost nine members in that shooting. For all these people the holidays will never be the same.

    3. My friend Becky. Though we live in different states now she has always been there for me and my family to lend a helping hand.

  2. Oh. I’m always reminded that even in difficult times, there is still something to be thankful for! I have so many blessings to thank God for!

    1. Jesus- He’s always by my side no matter what!
    2. Avenue of Prayer- I’ve been thinking about prayer a lot lately and what it does for me. So glad we can talk to God anytime anywhere.
    3. My wonderful friend, Bev! She always has a listening ear and I treasure all our wonderful times spent together.

  3. Happy thanksgiving to you!
    The warmth and fragrance of a wood fire, mashed sweet potatoes seasoned with smoked paprika, salt, butter and cream cheese, and my dear friend Paula, who is like a third sister to me.
    I have a deep appreciation too for a certain blog called Confessions.

  4. Today I’m thankful for…
    :: being granted another beautiful day to serve God!
    :: mice traps- to catch those horrid creatures that insist on eating my dove chocolates!! :0 lol
    :: dirty dishes that need washed- it means we have food to eat, and therefore will not I complain when I gaze upon the counter and behold it full
    :: oh, and one more yet: You, for reminding us again of “the moral of thanksgiving”
    Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

  5. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’m grateful for a lovely sunrise this morning, a warm heater in my car with a fan to defrost the window, and the chance to help prepare a Thanksgiving meal for 2017. I can call my friend, VaLita, any time for anything. Thanks, Shari, for this blog post. I love it. – Dawn

    • Ha! VaLita was the first friend that came to my mind too! She’s a gem.

      I’m thankful for a wonderful church family – Thanksgiving lunch together is always a treat!

      So grateful for the health my family is blessed with!

  6. Bible. Loving husband. Warm house.
    I’m blessed to know I would have over 30 women I can depend on in time of need.
    Happy thanksgiving to you southern friends…ours was great in Canada 😉

  7. – My husband who is (almost) always just what I need
    – My four children who make me laugh & sigh
    – My friend, Wendy, with whom I have no familial or church ties (which makes her an excellent objective sounding board); however, she would probably give bread instead of venison.

  8. I love your take on the moral of Thanksgiving. I can’t help but think that the Pilgrims were afraid partly because they knew they were on the Americans’ land uninvited. Makes me wonder if my fear of other people seeing my weakness is because I’m afraid my sin will be exposed, too.

    Anyway, I’m thankful that my children have a strong daddy, for God’s presence and interest in me, and for all the dozens of friends I have who would empty their freezers for me.

    Happy thanksgiving Shari!

  9. 1. I’m thankful for people who know how to care for a toddler’s hand after it was applied to the hot stove burner, and resources to ease the temporary pain of it.

    2. I’m thankful for hard things. Heard a topic about this recently and I need to be intentional about thanking God in or even for the hard things.

    3. My mom is probably the closest friend I know of who would do anything for me, at any hour of the night if I needed her to. I am increasingly aware of her mortality.

  10. 1.I am thankful for my husband. He’s my best friend. Not to sound cheesy or anything, but he really is the bomb.
    2. My 2 boys. They are my wonderful blessings, partly because they build my character with their shenanigans.
    3. I have a hard time picking just one friend. I have at least half a dozen that I can count on anytime I need them. I know that’s a blessing not everyone has.

    Thanks for reminding us of the moral of thanksgiving. I could especially relate to this… “We can spend so much time planning our militia that we forget the neighbors are not planning an attack.”

  11. Jesus Christ, my foundation. He holds me when the winds howl and the storm unleashes it’s fury.
    My very special family. A godly husband and a bunch of wonderful children.
    My friend Mary, who makes (and shares) awesome cheese and listens and gives advice when life is tough.

  12. I don’t know where to start. I could say all of the above, and stop there.
    But…maybe first off is our wonderful church family who have wrapped their welcome around us in the past six months. We are so. so. blessed.
    I laughed about the ladies who think VaLita is special, just cause it’s fun to run into people you kinda know. But also because I go to church with her mom and am so glad she’s there, and that her health is improving. But I don’t know where to stop with friends either. My mom, for sure!
    I am so thankful for the comforts of home and family, too. I am not deserving of all I’ve been given.

  13. So thankful for: health (I had melanoma earlier this year)
    : my husband and four children
    : my church
    And my friend and neighbor Fay, who has literally given me venison and so much more!!!

  14. A new job, which in God’s perfect timing came right at the same time as despair and gives me a place to focus my time.

    My husband and the way he cares for me.

    So many close friends who live far away, but I could call or text and they would answer.

  15. I loved this post! Beautiful! I am thankful for:
    Hope. The hope we have in Jesus. It is wonderful!
    A job I love very much.
    My friend Janell. She’s always there and I don’t know what I would do without her! 🙂

  16. I love this perspective on Thanksgiving! I am thankful that God doesn’t allow us to face any situation without the resources of His grace ready and waiting to meet our needs. I am thankful for the miracle of modern medicine that is allowing our family some extra years before Parkinson’s rob’s us of the wonderful father and husband who leads us. I’m thankful for the church body that holds up our hands when the battle is hot, and gives what is needed to lighten the load, and always, always prays for us. And the friend I am most thankful for is Faith Smith, who would give the freezer WITH the venison, if she thought I needed it!

  17. This is in the wee hours of the US Thanksgiving. I am in Canada, sitting with my husband at his father’s bedside, who is in his last days because of the cancer invading his body.
    I am thankful for my mother-in-law, who has loved and cared for her husband so tenderly, and who carries on in her own anguish.
    I am thankful for all the other members of this family, who are doing everything in their power for their parents and parents-in-law. They are amazing, and they are friends.
    I’m thankful for my husband’s dad, who has been such a good dad and loving grandpa all these years, and who even in death is showing us how to live.
    And I’m thankful for my own mom and three sisters. They give me venison when I run out, and help me shoot another deer for food and show me how to use the skin for warm clothes, and are my friends in spite of my neediness.

  18. Thanksgiving…isn’t it such a beautiful word? I am so thankful for my family, for the job that God landed in my lap this summer, & after a long hard summer to once again experience hope, is there anything more precious than to have hope?! “Stop hiding in the darkness.” That poked a hole in my nicely constructed ‘ship’ of protection! How often do we hide behind that barrier we put up to protect ourselves convinced should we become vulnerable we would be scalped?! I’m discovering venturing out from that ship isn’t nearly as scary as I thought, indeed there are people waiting for you to let that barrier down so they can help. Thanks for the nudge Shari! 😊. The friend I’m am so thankful for also happens to be my niece, Linda. She’s a great listener, is empathetic, & has been a real inspiration to me!

  19. I’m thankful that all those things we worry about generally don’t happen! The pilgrims didn’t KNOW if the Native Americans were friend or foe. For eyes to see and read, including thought provoking and sometimes humorous posts by Shari. 🙂 I love your take on life! The friend I turn to who willingly fills a need, well, it depends on the need! But Regina can find lots of solutions!

  20. Pingback: Giveaway: Fragrant Whiffs of Joy - Confessions

  21. “Take steps of faith through the night to the wigwam next door and sit down by the fire. We can spend so much time planning our militia that we forget the neighbors are not planning an attack.”
    Yes! In more ways than one. I know I’m late, but I loved this post.
    Three things I am thankful for… relationships with people who love Jesus, silent nights, and although I have many friends to turn to thankfully, one of the ones I turn to the most is my sister Sara.

  22. You make me cry as I sit here in my dark night. Yes! There are friends to turn to. My steady husband, my sons who will literally provide the venison, my siblings, my church friends. Why did I think the night was dark?

  23. This is so beautiful, Shari. I’m so late. Do I have to do what you said? she whined.

    I’m thankful for the Christmas hymns my kids are playing on the piano. The words of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” minister to my heart every time Natalia plays it, thanks to a teacher in school that made us learn them.

    I’m thankful for C.S. Lewis and Shari Zook and Anita Yoder–those writers who just say it in a way that resonates with me.

    And which friend should I mention? I guess I’ll go with Laura from here at home. She’s a strong and wise person.

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