Try this Memorable Thanksgiving Tradition and Share Yours
The following is a wonderful family tradition shared by Leland Anderson, Director of Distance Education at American Heritage School. We hope you enjoy this idea and welcome your comments on some of your favorite memories and traditions for this Thanksgiving holiday, too.
When I was 4 or 5 years old, my parents drove me and my siblings to a snowy field on Thanksgiving weekend. We trudged across the frozen, open field in our winter boots to an empty irrigation ditch blanketed in snow. Bundled in coats, hats, mittens, and scarves, we still could feel the below freezing temperatures and light snowfall. We sat together in the ditch to discuss our heritage and count our blessings.
“During the last part of their journey,” Dad told us, “the pioneer handcart companies had only meager rations of flour, a little meat, and melted snow to sustain their cold, tired, hungry bodies.” The 104 wagons carrying the Martin Company arrived in Salt Lake City on November 30, 1856, meaning the Martin company spent their Thanksgiving in the cold of the trail.
My dad distributed a handful of raw wheat to each person, which he asked us to chew and swallow while he recounted the bitter cold endured by the Martin and Willie handcart companies. Chewing and swallowing the wheat was difficult; I remember thinking how glad I was not to eat raw wheat every day. My siblings felt the same. We sat quietly in the cold, our gratitude swelling within us.
We could feel the cold nipping at the tips of our fingers, toes, and nose. After several minutes (approximately 15) we returned home to warm ourselves with delicious food and contrasted the experiences, reflecting on the bounteous blessings we enjoyed. We were definitely more grateful.
Each Thanksgiving I reflect on this memorable “field trip”—a low-cost tradition that made me grateful for the sacrifice of pioneers to establish this land, for good food, and for a warm home. It’s been 30 years, and I’ll likely remember it in 30 more.