by JENNIFER JAMES
November 21, 2012
It was Thanksgiving, and for the first time our whole family was together. Mom and Dad had to drive all night just to get here, but boy was it worth it! The Grandsters really know how to do it up right. The Grandsters being Grandpa and Grandma. We were all seated at the table, and I couldn't wait to dive into those mashed potatoes and gravy. And the smell of the turkey – thought I was going to faint with happiness.
"What's that, Mindy?" demanded my little cousin Sam. He can be such a pain. He is 8 years old, two years younger than I am.
"What's what?" I asked.
He pointed to a little paper cup containing just three kernels of corn beside Grandpa's plate. I opened my mouth to answer and then realized I didn't know. Ugh! How I hate admitting that I don't know something!
Grandma answered, "It is to pay tribute to the Pilgrims."
"But why three kernels?" asked the always curious Sam. Give it a rest, I thought.
Grandpa answered, "It reminds me of what a tough time the Pilgrims had. In the beginning, three kernels of corn was each person's daily food ration." The table got real quiet after he said that.
Grandpa continued, "Against all odds, they made a life for themselves in the wilderness. Let's talk more about it after dinner."
Sure enough, dinner was over and Sam wanted to know more.
"Squanto taught the Pilgrims to grow corn!" Sam exclaimed. He's never going to forget that – he played Squanto in the Thanksgiving Day play at school.
"That's right," Grandpa said. "But at first the Pilgrims were terrified of the Indians, as they called them. Then one day a tribesman named Samoset ventured into their encampment. He was tall and dark and by many accounts quite handsome. Loudly and plainly he proclaimed, 'Welcome!' in perfect English."
"The Pilgrims must have freaked!" shouted Sam.
Grandpa laughed and agreed. "I'm sure you're right. He had learned the language from English fishermen. For the Pilgrims, life was a constant battle for survival. Later, Gov. William Bradford made a decision. Instead of the colonists sharing their crops equally, he assigned a parcel of land to each family and told them they could keep whatever they produced for themselves."
"Then what happened?" asked Sam.
"At last the Pilgrims began to prosper. Governor William Bradford wrote in his book 'Of Plimoth Plantation,' 'This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' "
"Shoot! If you can keep everything you make, of course you're going to work harder. Everybody knows that."
Grandpa answered, "The first seed had been planted for the American Revolution. People were free to practice their religions as they saw fit and were free to keep the fruits of their labor. This had never happened before in the history of mankind. In the words of William Bradford, 'As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation.' "
"That William Bradford sounds like a pretty cool guy," said Sam.
"He was a pretty cool guy," Grandpa said with a chuckle.