As I lay sprawled across my bed listening to the sounds of the night, I realized that I have never spent much time discussing the Thanksgiving holiday with my boys. You know the story of English Pilgrims and friendly Indians sitting down to share a meal to give thanks. Of course they know the story but it is not something we discuss as a family.
In my defense, we spend most Thanksgivings on the road since we live more than seven hours away from family. On the years we don’t travel, I spend much of the time preparing the food. Again, no family close by and we eat our meal early because their dad usually has to work.
The challenge with teaching children about history is telling them the truth without it being an ugly truth. According to Paula Peters—an expert on Wampanoag history and a member of the Wampanoag tribe—in an interview with Huffington Post:
“This is not revisionist history,” Peters promised. “This is history that’s just been overlooked because people have become very, very comfortable with the story of happy Pilgrims and friendly Indians. They’re very content with that — even to the point where no one really questioned how is it that Squanto knew how to speak perfect English when they came.”
In other words, the happy Indian we learned about in school called Squanto might not have been as happy as our teachers would have liked for us to believe. Do I teach my children what I was taught or share the version that hasn’t been whitewashed? Who knows what I’ll do later today…
There is one thing I will teach them…
Thanksgiving is more about giving thanks than Pilgrims and Indians
I’m sure the topic of the first Thanksgiving will come up at some point during the day. My eight year old always has a way of discussing historical and scientific facts while my twelve year old serves as fact checker. The twelve year old has a strong need for factual information.
As we discuss the Pilgrims and Indians, we will talk about the underlying purpose of Thanksgiving. It is a time to give thanks for your achievements, family, friends and every other blessing in your life. In addition to talking about the Pilgrims we will discuss the following scriptures.
I Thessalonians 5:18
Because they need to know that no matter what situation they are in God has a perfect will for their lives.
I Timothy 4:4
Because they need to know that God created everything good—including them. I am thankful for them.
Because they need to know that they should always be thankful for their abilities and that anything they do should be done in a manner that honors God.
How did you talk to your children about the Pilgrims and Indians? What scriptures of thanksgiving are you sharing with your family?