This time of year is filled with crafts of fat turkeys, pumpkin pie, and funny little pilgrim hats and shiny black shoes with buckles. Even those details are based on artist renditions of the fable of the first Thanksgiving feast, not on truth.
One thing I love about homeschooling is we can dig deeper into the past together and attempt to find truth that has been skewed over so many years of text book revisions and glorifying our country’s history to make us look and feel better. Now, however, most people are wanting to hear the truth, not just teach a tale because it sounds good or it’s what has been taught for ages now.
The Thanksgiving story is supposed to make us proud, but we all know that the Europeans mistreated the Natives (to extremely understate it). They did share a few meals together, but hiding this fact, skimming over it, doesn’t teach us anything. I have learned so much more about American and Native American history since after I was out of school. Many things I could hardly believe I had never heard before! Knowing the bad as well as the good parts of our history, does not make me less proud to be who I am and the country I was born it. I am proud that I care enough to know the truth and learn from real history.
The real history of Thanksgiving
What actually happened way back when this supposed first turkey dinner took place, is a mystery that can never be fully known unless a time machine is invented. But some things are known, such as the “Day of National Thanksgiving” was put in place at the urging of a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale as a way to take our focus off of war and bring our country hope; unite us in something positive in a time of strife. The images of that first Thanksgiving were made up, created by artists to set the stage for this new happy American holiday.
The idea of the holiday itself is wonderful; a day to be and show thankfulness for all you have and to all the people in your life. Sarah’s campaign for this holiday to lift moral for an entire nation was noble and I don’t think the holiday’s origins need to be disrespected with lies about smiling pilgrims and Indians enjoying turkey and pie. Not that it isn’t fun to do a Thanksgiving craft or two, but lets teach our kids truth. Lets teach them to search for and listen to the many sides of each story, to think for themselves, not just take their text book for fact.
My favorite book on the subject of the true Thanksgiving history is:
Thanksgiving: The True Story
Click the image to purchase it on Amazon.
This book is full of fascinating facts about the true origins of the Thanksgiving story. It tells, with lots of photos and images, how the origins of the holiday story that is widely recognized today came about, when and why our Thanksgiving holiday began, how traditions held today were started, and speculates on what may have taken place in the days of pilgrims and Native Americans when the first feasts together would have happened; certainly without shiny buckled shoes and fat butterball turkeys.
In school, history was not my favorite subject. I loathed memorizing dates, names, and battles. But now that I do not have to memorize and can look at many different facts and ideas about historical subjects, I find it truly fascinating. I hope you take time this Thanksgiving to look into the origins of our wonderful holiday! I do love Thanksgiving and what it represents; being thankful for each other and what we have. Learning the truth, the dark with the light parts, does not make one less respectful of our country. Once I finally heard of the determined pleas of one woman to make this a national holiday, to heal our country, I came to respect the holiday more than I ever had. It’s more meaningful than reenacting an ancient meal. I find it sad that our school system focuses on a made up story, when the true history of Thanksgiving is so much richer.
For more great ways to learn history:
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