Thanksgiving in Early America

When we sit down at our Thanksgiving meal this month, we’ll be recreating a celebration that is as old as our country: sharing food with loved ones while thanking the God Who has provided the abundance.

While we understand that the First Thanksgiving was celebrated here by the Mayflower survivors along with the Indians that had helped them, the first official proclamation that was decreed to celebrate such a holiday was in 1777. It was a recommendation to the thirteen states by the Continental Congress to set aside December 18th that year as a “solemn thanksgiving” to celebrate the first major victory for the Continental troops in the American Revolution: the Battle of Saratoga.

The Battle of Saratoga has significant interest for my own family since one of my ancestors was a soldier there. But he was not on the American side—he was a British Redcoat. After surrendering to the Americans, he escaped the line of prisoners and somehow made his way to Massachusetts and into the life and heart of my fourth great-grandmother. *SIGH* L’amour!

This family story was the inspiration for my Deer Run Saga that begins in 1777 with The Road to Deer Run. There is an elaborate Thanksgiving meal scene in this novel as well as in the sequel, The Promise of Deer Run.

Some may wonder why such detail was afforded this holiday in my novels set in Massachusetts, while Christmas is barely mentioned. The reason is simple: Thanksgiving was the major holiday in the northern colonies, with Christmas considered nothing more special than a workday. According to Jack Larkin in his book, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, “The Puritan founders of New England and the Quaker settlers of Pennsylvania had deliberately abolished (holidays) as unscriptural.”

But Thanksgiving was begun as a way to give thanks to God for His provision. It usually began with attending church services in the morning, followed by an elaborate feast in the afternoon. The food for this meal was prepared for weeks in advance.

Since the individual state governors chose their own date to celebrate the holiday, it was theoretically possible for some family members—if they lived in close proximity—to celebrate multiple Thanksgiving meals with family and friends across state borders. The dates chosen could be anywhere from October to December, according to Dennis Picard, Director of the Storrowton Village Museum in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Chicken was most commonly served, said Picard, as it was readily available in the barnyard. And the oldest woman in the home had the honor of slicing the fowl for dinner.

Pies were made well in advance of the holiday and stored and became frozen in dresser drawers in unheated rooms.

“I like the idea of pulling out a dresser drawer for, say, a clean pair of socks, and finding mince pies,” said Picard, tongue in cheek.


Have a BLESSED Thanksgiving!

Author Bio:

Elaine Marie Cooper grew up in Massachusetts but now lives in the Midwest with her husband, her three dogs and one huge cat. She has two married sons and triplet grandchildren who are now one years old. The Promise of Deer Run is dedicated to the triplets and to veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.Elaine has been a magazine freelance writer for many years, and is a regular contributor to a blog on the Midwest called The Barn Door ( and a blog on Christian living called Reflections In Hindsight. She is the author of The Road to Deer Run and the sequel, The Promise of Deer Run. Prior to becoming an author, Elaine worked as a registered nurse.

This article provided by Elaine Marie Cooper and KCWC.

Flashback Friday ~ After Thanksgiving

This is the “Take Two: Turkey — Late As Usual — Edition of Flashback Friday
brought to you by Quilldancer.

Flashback Friday is the brain child of Linda from Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time to the days of our youth. Linda says, This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been!


This week Linda wants us to flashback to yesterday and share our own celebration.  I am not going to do that.  Instead I went into my archives and am sharing with you my 2007 thanksgiving post, which was was told to me in 2005 by a young man named Isaiah.

In my 5th grade classroom after Thanksgiving one year each of us shared how we celebrated and what we ate. One of my students didn’t want to share. We all cajoled and encouraged him to speak.

Finally he said:

“We didn’t eat.  We never eat on Thanksgiving. My mom cooks a big meal with lots of food and it smells great — then we package it up and take it to someone who needs it more then we do.  Mom says that’s so we never forget to be grateful everyday.  After we deliver the food, we go home and play games and sing and enjoy our family.  We don’t turn on the TV or the radio. At bedtime dad reads us Bible stories.  It was really hard to go to sleep because I was so hungry, but in the morning mom fixed pancakes for breakfast and we told God how grateful we were to have food, and we knew how to really mean it.”

They weren’t exactly a Gucci family, either.  Seven kids, two parents and grandma in a three bedroom house.  Whenever I need a lesson in gratefulness I think of them.

Jones Tofurkey & Gravy Soda

If you wish people to follow, first you must lead.

I boldly and bravely began the taste test. I tossed the Jones’s Tofurkey & Gravy Soda back and …

1 C Tastes

… froze. I could neither swallow nor spit. I was just there, waiting for my body to decide (my brain had already signed off on the project) whether I was going to process or reject this offering.  Finally, I swallowed.

3 C reaction

Then I smiled, relieved to once again be in control of my physical responses. Who’s next?

4 C whos next


Jeff (Mr. OJM) actually volunteered — with great enthusiasm — to be the next victim taste tester. In fact, he was so enthusiastic, he had his shot of soda down before the camera focused — but I did catch his reaction.

1 Jeff's reaction

Don’t be fooled by that hat on his head. It might be a turkey, but Jeff is pure ham. He loves mugging for the camera. To get his real reaction, I offered him more. This was his response:

2 J want more


Lavon (OJM) donned the hat, took the cup, smelled the soda, and changed her mind. I wouldn’t take the cup back. Finally she tasted …

1 L changed mind

Then spent a few moments clearly trying to decide how we’d react if she spit it out.

2 L can I spit

Flavor Fail!

3 L flavor fail


Amoeba donned the hat and sat for a moment staring at his cup. I had the feeling he was mourning his dignity.

A 1 dignity

Suddenly he tossed the contents of the cup into his mouth, shook his head, then favored me with this …

2 A get it over

I will get even someday

3 A get even later


Everybody at the party tasted the soda, but the other guests declined to be photographed or discussed on the blog. Even so, a good time was had by all.


Thanks IZEA, for the bottle of Jones Tofurkey & Gravy Soda and the turkey hat. All this fun couldn’t have happened without you!

Ella & The Tofurkey & Gravy Soda

Ella took a sip of the Jones Tofurkey & Gravy Soda, declared it tasty, then drained the bottle.


Luckily everyone else at the dinner table already had their taste. I took their photographs, too, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that post. I just returned from Amoeba’s Black Friday concert (yes, I’ll be posting about that soon, too!) and Thom will be here any moment. He and I are going shopping together this afternoon. That’ll be fun, won’ it?