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“Mary Had a Little Lamb”

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(from a 1903 edition of Mother Goose)
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.
And so the teacher turned it out,
But still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear.
Why does the lamb love Mary so?
The eager children cry;
Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know,
The teacher did reply.
The nursery rhyme was first published by the Boston publishing firm Marsh, Capen & Lyon, as a poem by Sarah Josepha Hale on May 24, 1830, and was possibly inspired by an actual incident. The book, Poems for Our Children, was designed for families, Sabbath schools, and infant schools and written to inculcate moral truths and virtuous sentiments.
Sarah Josepha Hale
The author of this children’s poem was Sarah Josepha Buell, who was born in Newport, New Hampshire, on October 24, 1788. Home schooled from the textbooks of Dartmouth College, used by her brothers, she became a teacher at 18 in her hometown.
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Sarah married lawyer David Hale in 1813, and he encouraged her avid reading and writing. The couple had five children before David died of a stroke in 1822. As a single mother, she worked first as a milliner, a designer and maker of hats, before she started her career as a writer and editor.
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In 1828, Hale became editor of Ladies Magazine, which became the popular Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1837. She worked for this magazine for 40 years and focused on feminine etiquette of the day.
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Hale and Publisher Louis Godey steered away from politics, religion, and social issues, focusing instead on women’s domestic education from health to home to fashion—the magazine was especially noted for its colored fashion plates. See below.
This publication eventually had a circulation of 150,000. She published the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. She also published unknown women authors who wrote about abolition, temperance, and suffrage.

Hale kept attuned to world news. The American public couldn’t get enough information about the increasing royal family, publications such as Godey’s Lady’s Book, always on the pulse of subjects of interest to women, presented the engraving “Queen Victoria’s Treasures” in February 1844, invoking the idea of royal jewels (see below). In the accompanying article, the Queen is observed to “be an example for the women of her own great kingdom, [and] is, therefore, highly important to the world; and we rejoice that she so beautifully exemplifies the best virtues of her sex, in her character as wife and mother.” In order to ensure that there were no questions about viewers’ gaze being directed towards her maternal characteristics the article concludes, “All the regalia in the Tower of London would not so adorn and beautify Victoria in our eyes, as the jewels of her maternal love, which she displays in this picture.”

 

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As an editor, she focused on promotion of causes she also was passionate about: the preservation of Mount Vernon and the establishment of the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston. She advocated for property rights, increased wages for women, as well as expanded educational and career opportunities. She knew first hand what it was like to support a family on her own.
The cover of Godey's Lady's Book in 1867.
What she wanted was to create a new national holiday—the American Thanksgiving Day. In her quest to accomplish this, she sent detailed petitions to five presidents and devoted numerous column inches to the idea in her magazine. More than any other individual, Hale was responsible for the creation of Thanksgiving as we know it, a country-wide day of rest and feasting at the end of November. She campaigned for a Day of Thanksgiving, conceived as a Christian holiday, focused on prayer rather than food.
In 1860, more than a decade after she first started promoting the idea, Hale declared victory. “We may now consider Thanksgiving a National Holiday,” she wrote. So many states had celebrated it so consistently on the same day, that Thanksgiving was no longer “a partial and vacillating commemoration of gratitude to our Heavenly Father, observed in one section or State” but a “great and sanctifying promoter of the national spirit.”
Finally, she retired in 1877 at the age of 89 and then died at her Philadelphia home in 1879. This literary pioneer opened the doors for other women authors and editors, as she worked hard at her job for fifty years.
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In a Vermont Public Radio commentary, the historian Cyndy Bittinger said of Sarah Josepha Hale, “With Hale as an advocate, women began to study at female seminaries and academies, and many contributed original material to her Godey’s Lady’s Book...[By publishing] the works of women [and] giving them a platform for their ideas and advocacy…Hale enabled female reformers of the 19th century to influence attitudes…[of both women and men].”
Sarah Hale said, “The burning soul, the bruden’d mind, In books alone companions find.”
This nineteenth century, American woman is one to be remembered. Her story is one of unending influence, as she maximized her intelligence and creativity.
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November 4, 2016

Knowing nothing about the reality of the Pilgrims’ journey to America or those first years of deprivation and death, it was a fun holiday to celebrate during my younger years. At school, we would make Pilgrim and Indian hats and headpieces, eat vegetable soup and cornbread, and sing loudly, “Come Ye Thankful People Come.”

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The faces and body language in this painting show us a more authentic view of the Plymouth Rock that the Mayflower brought the Pilgrims to.

Leaving England nine weeks late, New England’s harsh weather fiercely threatened their survival. In December, the men built crude shelters for the winter; the women and children stayed on the ship. There is a melancholy tone in the journal entries for that winter:

“…Aboute no one, it began to raine…at night. It did freee &snow …still the cold weather continued…very wet and rainy, with the greatest gusts of wind ever we saw…frost and foule weather hindered us much; this time of the yeare seldom could we worke half the week.”

During that winter, more than half of the heads of households died. Five of the eighteen wives lived through the scourges of pneumonia, tuberculosis, and scurvy.

On March 24, a journal entry sums their situation up:

“Dies Elizabeth, the wife of Mr. Edward Winslow. N.B. This month thirteen of our number die. And in three mons past dies halfe our company…Of a hundred persons, scarce fifty remain, the living scarce able to bury the dead.”

What a courageous group of men, women, and children; there are no words to laud their fortitude. During the third week of March, the weakened survivors from the Mayflower rowed ashore to their new homes in New Plimouth in those huts that needed rebuilding.

They could have given up and returned to England. They could have thrown up their hands in despair. But their faith was in God, and they chose to not let the hardships make them bitter. Their trust laid the enduring foundations of our country America, and they were thankful.

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If these few could fight, fall, and rise to fight again against wild animals, extreme weather, poor housing, and a starvation diet, I believe we should certainly sing this November, 2016.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”

“Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God’s own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.

2. All the world is God’s own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.

3. For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day
all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store
in the garner evermore.

4. Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.”

If you aren’t familiar with this old hymn, here is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msOzJ6DY7EA – 290k

When I was growing up, this was a song we sang at Thanksgiving programs at school and at church. Dressed as Pilgrims and Indians, we sang at the top of our lungs. (The grocery stores with their brown bags provided our costumes. Perhaps you remember cutting holes out for our heads and arms.) We built log cabins out of popsicle sticks and took canned food for the needy. Acting out the story of that first Thanksgiving was fun.

It wasn’t until later that I learned that this holiday was a traditional harvest feast for the Pilgrims.

Food, football, and fellowship were the key ingredients to our home celebrations. There was a standard menu that always included turkey and dressing. The table and counter groaned with the side items. We ate in the dining room, and Mother brought out her good china and silver. Family and friends joined us each year, and each shared their family’s favorite recipes. Whether watching football or playing it in the backyard, it was the afternoon’s entertainment. Some of the adults slept through those tv games. Because of the abundance of food, there was always enough for supper.

As I spent time in the grocery store today with my list for Thanksgiving dinner, I found myself buying ingredients to make and bake those same delicious foods. Family memories are not to be taken lightly; they are a part of us. I am blessed that I had parents who believed in being grateful on a regular basis and appreciate their teaching us that importance. Those magic words of “thank you” should never grow old.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,  “In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!