When the Puritans celebrated the first Thanksgiving they had far less than many of us do. They had traveled over the wide sea, had survived their first harsh winter in this land and had managed with the help of the Native Americans to have a successful harvest. Fifty three of the original band of one hundred two Puritans had survived the year since leaving Europe.
Each member of that fifty three must have grieved the loss of family and friends. Their diet was generally poor and unpredictable, their houses were one room dark drafty cabins in which fire was the only source of warmth and light. That same fire could easily burn down a cabin destroying months of labor with one spark. Packs of wolves picked off sheep and enjoyed an occasional colonist for dessert. Serious illness was a death sentence; pregnancy was often tantamount to a death sentence as well. Because there was no communally accepted established system of laws English colonists, Native Americans, adventurers and fortune seekers from Spain, France and Holland had no protection from each other.
In a dark world, good things are precious few and are prized all the more for their rarity. Perhaps what the Pilgrims were giving thanks for most of all was the resilience of spirit that allowed them to recognize what was good and to trust that life would get better.