As we pause this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the significance we can still glean from those early observances of yesteryear.

The settlers of our country faced many trials and tribulations, from little to no food to disease to long, often brutal winters. Through it all, these fathers and mothers of America solidified their belief in the Almighty and resolved to establish a nation that celebrated freedom and liberty not only for their own families but for generations to follow.

As one American legend has it, a tradition grew from the first Thanksgiving where the Pilgrims would start their meal with only five kernels of corn on their plates. These five kernels represented all the Pilgrims had to eat during the long, difficult winter, what many referred to as the Starving Time. It was a stark reminder that many of their loved ones had perished because of the lack of food, but it also symbolized the blessings each shared of once again being able to join their families and fellow man in giving thanks to God in the face of such hardships.

According to tradition, each Pilgrim would stand, pick up one kernel of corn and share a blessing for which they were thankful. They would continue this until all five kernels were gone.

You see, they were able to share their blessings with their families and fellow man because they had already shared their burdens. Blessings are best appreciated when you recognize and understand the burdens.

Today in America most do not face starvation or have to struggle with the challenges these early settlers faced. But yet, our society is filled with discontent, worry, and a spirit of always wanting to have or be more, often without the investment of hard work that is necessary to succeed.

Often our perspectives get skewed and we lose sight of what is most important in our lives – faith, family and freedom. It is in these times that we should remember those five kernels of corn.

We should feast on those five kernels, on those blessings and remember what God has given us, for while this life may indeed bring us hardships, there is an Almighty that will guide us to an ever deeper understanding of Him while strengthening the love and devotion we as Americans should have for our great land and fellow man.

Hear the passion and truth of this in the poem by Hezekiah Butterworth from “In Old New England”:

“‘Twas the year of the famine in Plymouth of old,
The ice and the snow from the thatched roofs had rolled;
Through the warm purple skies steered the geese o’er the seas,
And the woodpeckers tapped in the clocks of the trees;
And the boughs on the slopes to the south winds lay bare,
and dreaming of summer, the buds swelled in the air.
The pale Pilgrims welcomed each reddening morn;
There were left but for rations Five Kernels of Corn.
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
But to Bradford a feast were Five Kernels of Corn!

“Five Kernels of Corn! Five Kernels of Corn!
Ye people, be glad for Five Kernels of Corn!”
So Bradford cried out on bleak Burial Hill,
And the thin women stood in their doors, white and still.
“Lo, the harbor of Plymouth rolls bright in the Spring,
The maples grow red, and the wood robins sing,
The west wind is blowing, and fading the snow,
And the pleasant pines sing, and arbutuses blow.
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
To each one be given Five Kernels of Corn!”

“O Bradford of Austerfield hast on thy way,
The west winds are blowing o’er Provincetown Bay,
The white avens bloom, but the pine domes are chill,
And new graves have furrowed Precisioners’ Hill!
“Give thanks, all ye people, the warm skies have come,
The hilltops are sunny, and green grows the holm,
And the trumpets of winds, and the white March is gone,
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
Ye have for Thanksgiving Five Kernels of Corn!

“The raven’s gift eat and be humble and pray,
A new light is breaking and Truth leads your way;
One taper a thousand shall kindle; rejoice
That to you has been given the wilderness voice!”
O Bradford of Austerfield, daring the wave,
And safe through the sounding blasts leading the brave,
Of deeds such as thine was the free nation born,
And the festal world sings the “Five Kernels of Corn.”
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
The nation gives thanks for Five Kernels of Corn!

“To the Thanksgiving Feast bring Five Kernels of Corn!”

May we all remember those first Thanksgiving feasts and may we seek to celebrate Thanksgiving in America this year with a renewed sense of faith, family, community and country.

Happy Thanksgiving from Y’all Politics!

(We’ll be back next week with more commentary and analysis.)