By DAVID A. WILSON
It was in the fall of 1621 that survivors at of the Plymouth colony celebrated what is known as the first Thanksgiving.
The small group of about 50 Pilgrims joined with about twice that many Indians to have a feast of wild game along with the bounty from the sea and the farms.
Less than half of the colonists had survived of the 102 who had landed a year before to face a harsh winter, a shortage of food, sickness and death.
But the tenuous of life this group faced did not begin in the New World. Under threat of death or imprisonment, these Puritans had left England about 1608 to settle in Holland. It was a matter of obeying the king or keeping their Faith. For them, there was little choice.
Life in Holland with religious freedom was good. In fact, a little too good, as the younger members began "going with the flow" rather than adhering to their beliefs. So, in 1620, once again choosing their Faith, many of the original Dutch colony of Puritans struck out once more. This time, they journeyed to start a new life in America.
When the colony known as Plymouth Plantation was originally planned, it was with the thought of holding everything in common with no individual ownership.
The new community was set up for each person to labor for the benefit of the colony as a whole. Originally, there were several "long houses" with a number of families in residence. Even in the residence, a colonist might have a table, chairs and bed, but not own it. The house and its contents were owned, in fact, by the colony as a whole.
Even the colony leader, William Bradford, was said to have faced criticism for living in a house separate from the others. He also is said to have faced complaints from those who labored long about others who chose to take it easy.
It was a hard lesson, but one which out of necessity was learned fast. It was also a costly lesson, as lack of food and a cold winter weakened many to the point they succumbed to sickness.
A major change was in order, and it was made quickly. The colonists who remained alive were assigned individual plots of land to tend. They could grow whatever they were able to, and sell or trade whatever they produced, to other colonists or the Indian tribes in the area.
Thus, when the 50 colonists joined with about a hundred local tribesmen in the fall of 1621, they were thankful for the both the freedom to practice their own Faith and the freedom for the common man and woman to own property and engage in business.
The problems the early colonists had were pretty basic. Their main concerns were staying alive and keeping their Faith. If that meant they moved to another continent and learned to find food in an unknown, and at times hostile environment, they rose to the challenge.
Certainly it was a struggle. But their struggle was the beginning of the great nation the United States became.
What about today, 392 years later?
Certainly we have many more problems. The Internet may be down. Cell phone coverage isn't what we would like. Nothing good is on television. Maybe the sewer is stopped up. The grocery store is out of canned pumpkin and the last frozen turkey was sold before you got there.
We have problems the Plymouth colonists could never have imagined. Considering their main struggle was for life itself, more often than not unsuccessful, they would likely consider that we have no problems at all.
So, if on Thanksgiving Day, you need something to be thankful for, be thankful for the problems you have with modern life and the troublesome conveniences that go with it.