Almost 400 years ago in 1620, there were several families who wanted to have a better life for themselves and their children. So they got on a big boat called The Mayflower and those families sailed across the large Atlantic Ocean from England to America.

These families were called The Pilgrims and they had a very rough trip that lasted for several months. They lived in tiny rooms on The Mayflower and the food was not that good. During storms the boat rocked up and down and rolled from side to side and it was hard to stand up and move around without falling down.

Two of the families traveling on The Mayflower were the Tilleys and the Howlands. Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland loved each other very much and were looking forward to getting married once they had reached America.

One time during this long voyage, John Howland slipped off the deck of The Mayflower, fell into the ocean and almost drowned. But he was quickly rescued and everybody was happy about that, especially Elizabeth Tilley.

When The Mayflower landed in America, the Pilgrims named that landing spot “Plymouth Rock” after their former hometown, Plymouth, England.

Because the trip across the Atlantic Ocean took so long, it was very late in the year and the winter snows and cold weather would begin soon. So the Pilgrims had to hurry and cut down enough trees to make into logs to make the 4 walls and the roofs of the little houses that they called log cabins.

At that time in early America, there were no cities or towns anywhere, only deep forests and big meadows. There were no houses or buildings of any kind, and there were no roads or grocery stores.

It was too late in the year to plant wheat to make into bread, or to plant potatoes and other foods. So the Pilgrims had to gather as many nuts and fruits as they could find.

The Pilgrims also tried to quickly catch as many fish as they could from the nearby rivers and lakes too. They also hunted turkeys and deer but that first winter in America started very early and so they didn’t have a lot of food stored and preserved to eat during those long winter months.

That first winter some of the Pilgrims died because they didn’t have enough food to eat or enough firewood or blankets to keep themselves warm and their deaths made the remaining families very sad.

But when the warmer months of springtime began, several groups of people called Indians came to visit the Pilgrims. The Indians had lived in America for a very long time before the Pilgrims arrived and they looked and spoke differently from the Pilgrims.

And because the Indians and the Pilgrims spoke different languages, it was hard for them to understand each other at first but the Indians and the Pilgrims soon became good friends.

The Indians were very kind to the Pilgrims and they taught them different hunting and fishing skills so that they could get more food. They also showed them how to plant seeds for new delicious foods they’d never had before, like pumpkin and corn.

The Indians even showed the Pilgrims how to grow a new type of corn that puffed up all white and tasty when heated in their fireplaces. It was called popcorn and it was just as yummy then as the popcorn we eat today.

So after that first successful harvest, the Pilgrims gave a big party with their new Indian friends as their guests. The Pilgrims wanted to thank them for all of their helpful advice and for their friendship.

Americans still celebrate Thanksgiving now by sharing good food with our families and friends.

It is also especially important for us to always remember that we wouldn’t be here today if there hadn’t been that very first Thanksgiving with our long-ago Indian and Pilgrim ancestors.

Ava, Evvie, Charlotte and their daddy, Justin, are descended from the Iroquois Indians and their ancestors may have been some of the Indians who had greatly helped the Pilgrims.

Great-Nana, Nana, Tara, Evvie and Charlotte, are all directly descended from John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, who were part of the original Pilgrims.

So every Thanksgiving we remember and honor our long-ago relatives by telling this story of that very first Thanksgiving between our Indian and Pilgrim ancestors.

Happy Thanksgiving!

First written and read by Jeneane Behme (Nana) for our November 28, 2013 Thanksgiving dinner. This is dedicated to Jeneane’s mother, Great-Nana (Margaret Louise Pillen Behme); her daughter, Tara Behme; Justin Ryder (father to his daughter, Ava Nicole Ryder) and to Justin’s children with Tara: Evvie Ryder (Evelyn Ambrielle) and Charlotte Louise Ryder (who will be born in a few months in February 2014).

Thanksgiving 2013 was held at Nana’s apartment in Bay City, MI on November 28, which was also Nana’s birthday.

We enjoyed artichoke and spinach dip, deviled eggs and almond shredded chicken and capers dip with Ritz and Triscuit crackers for our appetizers. Then for Thanksgiving dinner we had Tara’s special roast turkey with herb butter, ham with pineapple and brown sugar glaze, garlic mashed potatoes, turkey pan gravy, home-made onion bread, green bean casserole, cranberry and Jello salad, mushroom dressing, pumpkin cake, cheesecake (for Nana’s birthday) and cookies and cream pie. Yummy!





    1. Sure. And you do have to realize that my family story is a much abbreviated version. For instance, I just found out that the first Thanksgiving most likely occurred a year after the traditional date. And that a ship from Ireland laden with food arrived in the spring after the Plymouth Rock landing. One of the original Pilgrims’ wives was the daughter of a wealthy Irish man. So yes, I would like to learn about other accounts about Thanksgiving. 🙂


  1. Well it’s all new to me, and very interesting – so please share any details you have, it’s something we know little about here in Europe and you hear so many half-versions etc. But great that families get together anyway and have a wonderful time, no matter what the origins, right? 🙂


    1. Thanks, sweetie! Yeah I got a post from another follower asking if I want the real reasons or the real story behind America’s Thanksgiving celebration so I’m eagerly awaiting her version. I just found out that, and mind you, I do not know if this is really true or not, but anyways, it seems that the Pilgrims had their Thanksgiving a year later than originally reported and that a ship from Ireland arrived shortly after that horrible first winter here in America. The ship was laden with food and it came from a wealthy Irish man because his daughter was married to one of the Pilgrims. Interesting take don’t you think? Anyways, our family story has all sorts of documentation that has been passed down and my mom, who was an avid genealogist, dug up a lot more details as well. According to my mom we are descended from Brian Boru, ain’t that neat? As well as from Charlemagne. We are also remotely related to Diana, Princess of Wales, through her Spencer lineage. So I can honestly say I am really a royal pain in the neck rotflamo! I keep forgetting that our American traditions don’t translate too easily to other countries and I have so many followers from Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand so I have to keep my international audience better in mind when I write about American stuff. Like football to the majority of the world means soccer while here soccer is soccer and football is a different game entirely 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok, but I don’t think u were unclear or confusing in any way with ur post, I enjoyed reading it anyway. But of course nice to hear new input from someone if they have more to share! And that is the joy of the blogging world, stories, feedback, thoughts from all around the world right? Tomoro is a very big Dutch celebration day, for example, “Sinterklaas”. Most families celebrate either that OR Christmas here, with gifts etc, but we did both until my children were old enough to stop believing in the Sint. I had to keep both heritage sides going, haha… So between those two and our two birthdays, December has always been a very hectic month for my family. Nowadays 5 Dec is MY day again, haha… And I love it! 🎄🎅🏼🎁💃🎉🌟


  2. And I just love those so cute little emoticons/pictures you add! I have heard of Sinterklaas before but now I will read up on your Dutch celebration because it sounds very interesting and fun! I love learning about new customs and new things, so thank you for helping me to learn about something new! I haven’t heard back yet from the above blogger about the additional information she knew about America’s first Thanksgiving event so I hope to hear from her soon. Enjoy your Sinterklaas celebration or your Christmas celebration, as well as your busy December. But most especially, have a WONDERFUL birthday tomorrow (December 5) that is just as joyous and beautiful as you are, my Irish/Dutch gal pal! I don’t know if you also follow me on my Commonplace Book blog as well (it’s too difficult to keep jumping from this blog to my other blog lol) but I just added a really nice quote: “The old dreams were good dreams, they didn’t work out, but I’m glad I had them.” It’s from the book, The Bridges of Madison County. If you get a chance, and I know you are busy, but one of these days please check out my Commonplace Book blog because it’s chock full of all sorts of quotes, artists I like and some of their works, and even funny graffiti I have found over the years. Any subject, such as love, or politics, or marriage, or life, etc., can be found in my Categories or by using the Search box at the top right. I hope you find something you like or something that makes you laugh 🙂 Enjoy your special day! !*!*!*


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