“Mommy, what is Thanksgiving?” “Daddy, why did the Pilgrims leave their country?”

“Why do we eat turkey?”

We all have been asked these questions from the children in our lives. But how do we shorten the long version in words that they can understand about this holiday of giving thanks?  


How about:

“Today, it’s 2016, but way back in 1620, we had our first Thanksgiving!

Many people from England wanted to pray to their God, but their King did not want that.  He wanted everyone to go to the same church – the Church of England.  If they did not go to this church they would get in trouble and go to jail.

Some of the people were sad and angry.  They wanted to pray the way they wanted to, not the way they were told to, and they wanted to respect their church, which they did not, so they decided to leave their home country, this King, and his church.  They got on a ship named the Mayflower and traveled across the ocean and arrived in Plymouth.  Because of this “pure” freedom, they were called Puritans... also, Pilgrims.

They were scared, because everything was so different for them.  The Native Americans were already in Plymouth and living off the land.  They could see that the Pilgrims were having a difficult time.  So being kind and thoughtful, they helped them build homes, shared their food with them, and taught them how to grow their own food.  They became great friends!

The first winter was very hard for the Pilgrims.  Over time their food grew, and their friendship with the Native Americans grew, too.  Having this new friendship and sharing so much together, the Pilgrims wanted a grand feast for the Native Americans.  With all their new food and their new hunting skills, the Pilgrims had a beautiful dinner with their new friends – a dinner of thanks and gratitude – a thanks-giving dinner.

That was our first Thanksgiving!”

And that’s that! Close enough?

Depending on the ages of the children, you can incorporate the correct definition of Puritans and the difference between Puritans and Pilgrims, along with the feast lasting three or four days, where Plymouth is on the map, and what year the United States made it a national holiday - 1941.

Questions to spark the imagination may be:

* What kind of food do you think they had at the first Thanksgiving (remember... grown from seeds).

* What did they drink?

*What decorations for the table did they use?

*What did their homes look like?

*The Pilgrims were grateful for the Native Americans and their kindness, what are you grateful for?

*What pictures do you think the children drew for the Native Americans?

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends.  It’s a perfect day to think about life’s blessings.

Harry Pierre & PeTunia and their creators wish you and yours a wonderful and joyous Thanksgiving! We are grateful for each one of you and the joy that Harry Pierre & PeTunia bring to children, encouraging kindness and respect, and the beauty of friendships.

--Debbie Caldwell