Thanksgiving recipes can be found in expensive, gourmet cookbooks that offer the most exotic treats from every culture in America. Others choose to call grandma and ask for her recipe of tasty cornbread dressing sprinkled with a touch of curry for a memorable meal. No matter your taste or culture, searching for mouth watering dishes has been a hobby for many food enthusiasts since the Pilgrims ate roasted turkey with the Indians. Thanksgiving dinner is in a tradition all by itself as a symbol of the bountiful dinner celebration begun by the hardy men and women of the Plymouth colony in 1621.
Having braved their first harvest season in the New World, the Pilgrims were overwhelmed with the huge harvest of their 20 acres of corn and other crops. They planned a joyous celebration in response to God's goodness which became the first Thanksgiving dinner. The very first Thanksgiving recipes in history were put to use for that special, autumn day and every available food was prepared for the occasion. Vegetables of all kinds and various meats were served at that historic meal. According to historical accounts, even the Pilgrim's Indian friends left the celebration to hunt five deer in order to add venison to the feast.
The English women used what seasoning they had to add flavor to their traditional recipes. The first Thanksgiving dinner was a success as the Pilgrim's good friend, Squanto, brought King Massasoit and over 90 other Indians for the three day celebration. Throughout the course of the feast prepared with the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving recipes, many prayers of gratitude were extended heavenward to God for His provision and guidance. The captain of the colony also gave special thanks to Squanto for his priceless assistance to them after their arrival. This first celebration in history has served as an example to all not only to be gracious to others but above all, to give thanks to God for all His blessings.
For those who want to have a flavorful experience this Thanksgiving that reminds them of the variety of the first Thanksgiving dinner, you may want to try some new recipes. Cooks can always fall back on their favorite recipes, but why not spice up dinner with a little extra flavor from another culture? It adds a reminder at the celebration of the broad nature of God's love and His provision for those that love Him. "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalms 107:8)
Thanksgiving prayers were first uttered by God's people in the Old Testament and God ordained a specific sacrificial offering for thanksgiving. David, the psalmist, wrote many Thanksgiving devotions and Paul the apostle taught that we are to always pray and give thanks to God in all circumstances. When we use the Bible for devotions and for prayers, we are following after the hearts of men and women who led exemplary ideals for worshipping God. This November, if looking for good lessons to share with family or for prayers to pray during the holidays, turn to the Bible and find inspiration that turns a heart towards gratitude and finds the peace that much of the holiday season is promoting.
It's interesting that during the very seasons that Christians celebrate gratitude and the birth of Christ, our lives get the busiest and we are often so overloaded with schedules and shopping lists (turkeys to cook and potatoes to smash) we experience extreme stress and time seems to slip out of our grasps. This is actually the perfect time to stop all activities and reflect upon worshipful Thanksgiving devotions. God ordained many traditions and specific rituals to teach His people proper responses to His love and mercy. "And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the Lord. If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil...." Jesus fulfilled the law of the Old Testament, and because of His ultimate sacrifice, we no longer must practice the laws that were in place to teach us of our shortcomings. But, Christ clearly promoted special times of giving thanks, and the teachings of Paul include turning our attitudes constantly towards gratitude.
God is not the God of hustle and bustle and stressful preparations. As a matter of fact, God taught that we should quiet down and sit before Him. "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10) David wrote about the importance of being still and taking in God's word. "I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways." (Psalm 119:15) Perhaps the best way to design a holiday season is to take time into the schedule for Thanksgiving prayers and meditation.
When looking for reverent holiday devotions, turn to Colossians 3:6-7, "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him... as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." Or, when wanting to pray thoughtful Thanksgiving prayers, turn to the Psalms. "Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever." (Psalm 30:11-12). Celebrate the real reasons for the season by preparing Thanksgiving devotions to share and praying to God with gratitude.
Thanksgiving CenterpieceA Thanksgiving centerpiece can be the focal point of a family dinner table during the holiday season. Cornucopias filled with various, decorative vegetables are a common table topper that is reminiscent of the bountiful harvest that the Pilgrims thanked God for many years ago. Thanksgiving flowers also can make a nice table decor with bright splashes of color from an autumn palette. Many florist services and home decor shops offer a wide selection of prearranged bouquets that can be used for a stunning centerpiece in the home.
If sending a floral arrangement to friends or family as a token of love, it is good to know that there will be an array of choices such as sunflowers, chrysanthemums and a variety of dyed carnations to choose from. Senders can choose arrangements that can be used for a Thanksgiving centerpiece sent to the recipient or may prefer to send a personal gift of a dozen roses accented with some autumn color. The colors of the fall leaves, ripened corn, mellow pumpkins and golden hay are favorites for anyone decorating with Thanksgiving flowers. The wonder of God's creation is color-matched perfectly during the fall season and choosing a centerpiece that reflects creation's glory can create a warm and appealing atmosphere in anyone's home.
Creating a table topper and other types of decor for the home may be an activity enjoyed by some. Those who are talented with design abilities and have color coordination skills may choose to make their own Thanksgiving centerpiece that will delight all of the dinner guests. There are many craft and decorating shops that are stocked with everything needed to put together dazzling arrangements that serve as reminders of the season throughout the home. There are Thanksgiving flowers made from silk or other life-like materials as well as imitation fruit, woven baskets, horns of plenty and other interesting additions that will wow guests and family. One can find greenery, candles, and ribbons to help finish off holiday project.
A holiday centerpiece is just a part of the personal touch that can add to a home while using creative abilities to remind family and friends about the importance of gratitude. The colors of Thanksgiving flowers, the smell of roast turkey, and the togetherness of families on this special holiday serve to remind everyone of the Pilgrim's grateful expression of praise to God for His provision in their lives many years ago. "O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord." (Psalms 117:1-2)
Thanksgiving games can be a highlight of the holiday season that gets everyone focused on the reason that our nation recognizes a day of thanks. These games can also be used as an opportunity to teach children, friends, relatives, and guests of the tradition of taking time out of a busy schedule and giving thanks to God for his goodness. A quick research of Thanksgiving trivia can equip party and game planners with facts that will wow the guests. There are many great aspects about Thanksgiving that can be taught during holiday celebrations, giving the season a more meaningful impact on family and friends.
School teachers and parents are often looking for fun ways to impart truth. Using Thanksgiving games, these teaching opportunities can make for memorable and meaningful lessons as to why we as a nation observe this honored day. Thanksgiving trivia reveals that the original time set apart was a time to honor God for his goodness. In 1621, the pilgrims that survived after the first winter set aside three days to thank God for the bountiful crops they had received that first year. Although they lost almost half of their original Puritan sect, the pilgrims found blessings for which to be grateful. History tells us that the pilgrims celebrated this feast alongside the native Indians of the land who had helped them cultivate and grow crops. The Puritans are historically noted for their devout devotion to God and their desire to live a life as closely replicating Christ as possible.
A meaningful yet enjoyable idea for Thanksgiving games is to go around the dinner table and asking everyone to reflect on the hardships of the year and the blessings. Everyone can take turns thanking God for everything He gives us, just as the Puritans on Plymouth Rock did. This is something even young children can participate in. Another idea is to create a list of Thanksgiving trivia questions to ask people before eating dinner. Have a small prize available for the person who answers the most correctly.
After a winter of tremendous hardships, the pilgrims found much to thank God for. This is inspiring, and it serves to remind our nation about God's divine workmanship in our lives. "Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God," (2 Corinthians 9:11). The Puritans believed that God uses difficulties to teach of His nature just as He uses blessings. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose," (Romans 8:28). There are many tidbits of historical knowledge that can open our eyes as to what foundations this country was built upon. Thanksgiving celebrations are truly rooted in the nation's Christian heritage. This holiday season, through the Thanksgiving games, meals, and other activities, encourage people with Thanksgiving trivia and the truth of why we celebrate. Also, take time in your own heart to thank God for the richness, including the difficult circumstances that build faith and character.