I love the pilgrims and the whole story of the first Pilgrim’s thanksgiving. I know, we could go on forever about the details. Truth be told, I never heard about them until first grade. My parents told me many stories about our nation, but most of them stopped around the Depression. What I picked up from there, I learned from culture, school or books. The 1st Grade lesson wasn’t deep, just the basics: seeking freedom to worship, rough first winter, Indians step in and save the day, festival of thanks with both the settlers and the natives. In other words, what could have been.
And that’s where I like to focus. I never got into the tendency in Catholic circles to bash and trash the Pilgrims, or puritans in general. Growing up and in my college days, puritanism wasn’t exactly the problem most Catholics I knew were struggling with. Even now, most don’t tend toward that particular extreme. So I’ve kept my admiration for the pilgrims, their courage, their devotion, and their symbolic defiance close to my heart over the years. In fact, every time someone stands up and says we’ll take it no more, no matter what the cost, we could do worse than naming those Plymouth Puritans as a class example. Imagine if half the Christians in the world threw ourselves into our faith with the courage and sacrifice of the pilgrims.
So thanks to those courageous voyagers from all those years ago. Because of them, we have a national day set aside to enjoy the family, give thanks, and remember that for all we might be lacking, there are people in the world who would kill to have our worst day.