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Another curative for self-pity is to consider those less fortunate; and at Thanksgiving Day, it is proper to remember the actual conditions in which the Pilgrims lived. They had landed in the middle of the New England winter. It isn't necessary to describe, in gory detail, the privation they endured. The statistics tell it all: By the time spring came, only 47 of the original 102 colonists were alive. And of those alive, only seven were strong enough to function, and had to take care of the rest.

They were thus truly thankful that they had harvested enough food that they would not become extinct in their second winter. Thankful simply to eat and be able to live in a world with nothing but cold, work, and nights without light. In the words of Edward Winslow, one of the survivors who wrote an account of their experience the first year,

"And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."




Detail from The First Thanksgiving by Brownscombe, c. 1914.

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