Here is a second description that makes the pilgrim experience vivid:
“Governor William Bradford of the territory of Massachusetts did not have much to encourage him during the bleak days of 1621. A ‘great sickness’ had come over the small colony of pilgrims. During the winter, it had taken in death thirteen of the twenty-four heads of families, all the wives except four, and all but six of the bachelor men. Food was extremely scarce. The Mayflower had sailed back to England for more supplies, but no one knew when it would return. The harsh climate, the hunger of the people, the never-ending work, the fear of the Indians all about them, combined to discourage this little band of strangers. Besides all of this, a drought came and nearly sapped the last vestige of hope left…..
Bradford was an extraordinary man. In the fall of the very year of their hardship, he set aside a “Solemn Day” for the things they did possess. The little band of pilgrims gave praise to Almighty God for the little good fortune they had. They thanked God for the presence of the friendly Samoset and Squanto Indians, for the gifts of corn from these Indians, for the rains that come to relieve their drought, and for the fact that even half of them were yet alive….
Here is the real spirit of the first Thanksgiving….it is the spirit of gratitude in the face of adversity.”