Memories of past Thanksgivings swirl my soul and marinate in my mind. When I was young I never thought dressing as Pilgrims and Native Americans was wrong. Learning of all cultures, and the time of celebration together, only grew my respect and appreciation. Although some may consider early learning incorrect (morally, politically, or historically) I am grounded in the belief we are all created equal; nothing will change that. Four hundred years have passed since that first gathering of thanks and praise for an Autumn bounty. How did this day become a permanent place on our calendars? There’s a woman we can thank-and her last name happens to be Hale.

A love story began between a man and a woman-it was 1811. Two years later they wed. Sarah, so beautifully, described she and David’s home life as this:

“We commenced, soon after our marriage, a system of study and reading which we pursued while he lived. The hours allowed were from eight o’clock in the evening till ten; two hours in the twenty-four: how I enjoyed those hours! In all our mental pursuits, it seemed the aim of my husband to enlighten my reason, strengthen my judgment, and give me confidence in my own powers of mind, which he estimated much higher than I. But this approbation which he bestowed on my talents has been of great encouragement to me in attempting the duties that have since become my portion.”

Their next nine years of marriage welcomed five children. Sadly, David died from complications of pneumonia just two weeks before the fifth child was born. Single at 34, with five children, Sarah used the encouragement she had received from her husband to continue her career in writing (she wore black for the remainder of her life).

Sarah Josepha Hale was born on October 24th, 1788, in Newport, New Hampshire. Having a family that believed in education, Sarah was supported in all endeavors. She turned to writing as a form of income when she was widowed. In 1827 her first novel was published in the U.S., Northwood: Life North and South. In London it was titled A New England Tale. (, n.d.)

Her book was praised by a pastor that asked Hale to move to Boston to serve as an editor of his journal, Ladies Magazine. As the first female editor of a magazine in the United States, she applied scrupulous standards (, n.d.). During this time, she even published an anthology of poems (Poems for Our Children)-included was “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (1830). Originally written from her teaching days which began at age 18 (unheard of at that time) it was titled “Mary’s Lamb.” Later in the 1830’s, Lowell Mason set the nursery rhyme to a melody adding repetition in the verses.


Mary had a little lamb,
   Its fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went
   The lamb was sure to go ;
He followed her to school one day—
   That was against the rule,
It made the children laugh and play,
   To see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned him out,
   But still he lingered near,
And waited patiently about,
   Till Mary did appear ;
And then he ran to her, and laid
   His head upon her arm,
As if he said—‘ I’m not afraid—
   You’ll keep me from all harm.’

What makes the lamb love Mary so ?’
   The eager children cry—
 O, Mary loves the lamb, you know,’
   The Teacher did reply ;—
And you each gentle animal
   In confidence may bind,
And make them follow at your call,
   If you are always kind.’
-Sarah Josepha Hale
On a sidenote: In many hours of research and reading for this piece I became intrigued at the controversy surrounding this poem. At 70 years old Mary Tyler (in 1876) claimed she was “Mary” from the poem. She did indeed keep a lamb. Mary remembered a Reverend’s nephew, John Roulstone, writing about the incident of the lamb. The Redstone School where Mary attended now sits in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Without making you travel further down the lamb’s hole with me feel free to research more if you wish! 😊

In 1841 Sarah moved to Philadelphia and made Godey’s Lady’s Book (named after a Philadelphia publisher who bought out her original magazine, combined the two magazines, and hired her as his editor). It’s reported that many feminists scorned her for not being more involved in politics. For four decades she worked to promote educational opportunities for women, just as males. Hale wrote at least seventeen articles and editorials about women’s education. She was awarded a medal in 1860 from the Baltimore Female College. She also used her position to promote American writers. She made major contributions in choosing to publish works by Edgar Allen Poe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, just to name a few. Morally, she wished for uplifting novels and work. She raised money for various historic sites-helping to preserve George Washington’s home and financially supporting the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument.

Using her persuasive writing skills (and MUCH patience) Sarah spent seventeen years writing to leading U.S. presidents and politicians to push for a national celebration of Thanksgiving. Hundreds of letters went to governors, ministers, and editors as well.

It was 1863. The country was torn in half by war and dissention. A time of Thanksgiving was needed-just as in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag shared a meal to celebrate the Autumn harvest. One letter ended up in President Lincoln’s hand. He liked Hale’s idea. On October 3, 1863, he issued a proclamation declaring the last Thursday of November to be National Day of Thanksgiving and Praise. He ordered all government offices in Washington closed on that day. Sarah’s efforts earned her the nickname “Mother of Thanksgiving”. Hale enjoyed many Thanksgiving celebrations after that. She died on April 30, 1879, at the age of 90.

This day of unification was established to ease the stress of the country.

This Thursday, as I sit around the family table with my precious family (and in spirit with all who won’t be seated with us), I’ll be reminded that our freedom wasn’t without a fight of faith. Yes, our freedom from our sacrificial Lamb was given at no cost to us. We don’t have to fight that fight. For a country that seems torn by opposite opinions and acts of aggression, I pray that assaults will cease. Not just on the Day of Thanksgiving and Praise, but every day.

Not long ago a new tradition began on social media. Friendsgiving is a wonderful thing. As thankful as I am for family, I’m grateful for friends too. To those here, in this space, that have supported my writing and beginning a new career-for becoming like family to me-thank you. You are loved.

🤍 May gratitude and grace ground us all.🤍

Have faith💚

The Peterson’s here in Branson, Missouri 🤍 ’tis an honor to live in the Ozark’s!

(2021.). Retrieved from

(2021). Retrieved from National Women’s History Museum:

(2021). Retrieved from (2021).

The history of Thanksgiving prior to our National Day:
During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies. New York even had a designated day of Thanksgiving. But much of the country, including the South, remained unfamiliar with this day.

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74 thoughts on “Therefore,Thanksgiving

    1. Thank you, Michele. In lieu of becoming more melancholy it was good for my brain to switch into research mode for a new “look” at my FAVORITE holiday! I’m not for certain if I’m related to Sarah; but I hope so! Happy Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are most welcome. I appreciate the time and energy you put into your post. Diving into a project can help lift us out of the blues and give us a feeling of accomplishment – bonus! The holidays are joyful but can be difficult too. I hope that you enjoy yours. Thank you. 💝

        Liked by 2 people

  1. What a great piece of largely unknown Thanksgiving history. I really appreciate your efforts to discover this story and bring it to your readers’ attention. Blessings to you and your family this week as you gather in gratitude.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May it ever be a beautiful day dear lady, and well written. Being a foreigner I learnt something from it, even something about a lamb that I had spoken many times in my youth with not a thought to its creation. Now something has changed for knowing it, a few words over 190 years old still can hold us in sway. Thank you for sharing 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark, thank you so much. When I began my Thanksgiving “thinking” a few weeks ago (it’s my favorite holiday and time of year) I thought about how the history and story behind many things I hold dear is not often learned. It also seems we have new holidays and days on the calendar we celebrate all the time (i.e~who started National Coffee Day and why? That’s a national holiday for me everyday I guess, lol). Before last week I had never heard of Sarah. She did amazing things with her life! And in turn, I think of my amazing daughter-in-laws who have, along with my sons, have made decisions to be full-time Mothers. Mark, this touches my heart so much.They are two are the most amazing ladies~and if someone like Sarah can pave the way putting Motherhood on a pedestal while yet fighting to support others, causes, and promoting education ~….well, that’s not old-fashioned, that’s brilliant! So this research touched my heart and made me appreciate someone that left a “mark” that I might have missed. I’m so glad you learned from it too. 🙌🏻💛🙏🏻

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Most certainly dear lady, I think it is one of those moments where we realize ‘if we stop listening, we stop growing, in heart and mind’…and then to top that off, as I thought to write this down Spirit said to me…’what if you were totally deaf?’…and that stunned me. I have much more compassion now for those on that journey, it is almost beyond words what their world would have to be like ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Pam. Isn’t it wonderful to learn of influential people behind the scenes? Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings to you, Butch, and your entire family. I can see your table setting and gathering now. 💛❤️🍁

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the reminder to live in a posture of gratitude. And thank you for the history about Sarah Hale! Remarkable woman! What a great way to start my day and ease into the remainder of Thanksgiving week! On another note, I’ve been wondering—I know that Hale is not an uncommon name but it’s not all that common either so—are you by any chance related to Andy and (the late) Irene Hale of Long Beach, CA? Love your writing and your spirit. Thank you for sharing both.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Steve! Thank you for sharing and following. I feel the same about your writing! I’m unsure of the relation to Andy and Irene~it’s quite possible. I do know that our immediate family were all here in this area after leaving the North Carolina (I believe) area. Or perhaps that was my Grandma Hale’s side. I want to believe that all Hale’s are related! That would include Nathan 😉. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!


    1. Thank you, Scott. It’s sometimes easy to fall into the trap of ungratefulness or complaining. I have to stop myself and immediately pray and help someone else. I’m beyond blessed. I hope you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting article. Hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving.

    I’ve always had very mixed feelings about the holiday. I looked up about the real event and it wasn’t what we’ve been taught. The settlers were shooting off guns to celebrate the harvest and natives came to see what was happening. They didn’t bring food, probably didn’t share food. The history of this country and its colonization is based on rape, genocide, broken treaties, slavery, land grabs, etc.

    I love the idea of gratitude and gathering to honor the harvest. I would just rather it not be tied to a myth that makes the settlers out to be generous and sharing when in reality it is just the opposite. Indigenous people world wide have been treated as disposable and worthless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Katelon. I appreciate your feedback so much. I completely understand. Chief Massasoit will always be a hero to me. He wanted peace. We truly owe our own colonization to him. For it was this wonderful leader and his people, among others, who taught first settlers how to harvest. Basically his knowledge kept starvation at bay. The alliance they had with the colonists is something I still try very hard to believe. Even if that harmony was short-lived. The Wampanoag were under the threat of the Narragansett so I understand the ways in which tribes sought alliance. All of the things you mentioned have been a part of our history indeed. I understand. I remember how I cried as a young girl, and adult, over treatment of Native Americans. Reading “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee”, visiting monuments, and historical places in which a beautiful body of humans were being displaced, moved my spirit. Greed and power ~combined creates genocide. We learn so much from other cultures.In turn I’ll remain positive about my own lineage and race and pray to be a better body of humans. For it is greed, power, and hate that still linger and continue to treat people as disposable and worthless. History, if not learned, will repeat as we know. When we gather to celebrate I’ll remember what it is we wish NOT to be~but more, I’ll be thankful for what I do have~ the blessings and overwhelming spirit of gratitude guides me. I just pray for those who have not this time of year, too. 🥲🙏🏻😞 I appreciate you so much. I know you celebrate with such a grateful heart. 💛

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I just read another longer one today, on FB. The natives taught the Pilgrims how to plant and grow things. Then the Pilgrims were celebrating the harvest, sitting down to feast, shooting off guns. The natives came to see what was going on, fearing a war, as other colonists had just brought disease and/or death to their tribes. So the natives went and got more food and brought it to share. Now, they regret it. Most of that original tribe calls Thanksgiving a day of mourning, for what happened to their land, their tribes, their people after that first “feast”.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think we can agree that the tragedies occurred. If anything, dialogue about the treatment of any race or culture is important. I do not intend to have back and forth on this subject. How it was taught 45 years ago and what it did for me was to seek my own truth. I cry at the treatment. The greed that went along with the trade and power imbalance in early settlement resulted in so much travesty. I recognize the history and beautiful culture of the ground in which I walk and the wonderful people to whom settled it prior to me. As a teacher it gave me great pride to lead students in learning about the Native American culture. I heard empathy and sympathy from my young to older students about the treatment. The horrors were not canceled, they were shared with much questioning and concern from students. Just as the tragedies of wars between white people and even among tribes themselves. The holiday itself came about as what I wrote in my post. I’m so thankful that I can celebrate a time in which, if only peace for one day, can be felt between humans. 💛

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t know if I ever told you, but Sarah Josepha Hale (well, the first years of her tenure as an editor) is the topic of my master’s thesis. I also wrote my senior in university paper about her. When I finished the research for that paper — all microfilm all the time — I felt like a friend had died. She was an incredible woman and back in the 1970s/80s most Americans had never heard of her. Now we have women’s studies and she’s been pulled up from the netherworld of the female gender. We owe her so much. Awesome woman.

    I first met her when I was 7 or 8 years old. My dad brought home a big book from a library sale at the University of Denver where he was working. It was from 1859!!! and filled with poems all in alphabetical order according to topic and BEAUTIFUL engravings. The engraving in the front was Sarah Hale. Years later, in university, womens studies class, tasked with a paper about a woman writer, I was wandering around the library at the University of Colorado. A book fell down in front of me and opened. There was the same picture. Divine finger pointing for sure. That book was a biography, “The Lady of Godey’s”.

    I gave that precious old book to a Chinese professor from Chengdu who was compiling an alphabetic dictionary of poetry in English. I said, “Here is something to help you” and so the book went to China. “North and South” would not be popular today. Sarah Hale was a proponent of repatriating former slaves in Liberia. She was very aware of that which Thomas Jefferson was also aware of; that the problems between the races would never go away and it would be very difficult for Africans to find happiness and acceptance among white people. People don’t give Thomas Jefferson much credit, dismissing him as a slave-owner, without having read “Notes on the State of Virginia” in which he lays out his conundrum, a conundrum he never resolved. (So lets just hate him, OK? Grrrrrrr….)

    Thank you for writing this post. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Martha, oh wow! No, I didn’t know. I couldn’t believe I had never heard of her! The book your Dad brought home…so beautiful. Yes, divine finger pointing on the biography. When I was researching her I thought of you. Truly she stood for morality and goodness. What an incredible life of grit and determination. Her persuasiveness is a legacy. ❤️🤗 thank you so much for reading and sharing. ❤️🤗 I’m going to read your post!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. She is responsible for the first national monument — Bunker Hill. She and some ladies organized, raised funds and accomplished that. She is also responsible for Mt. Vernon becoming a historical monument. She wasn’t even a bad writer — Godey’s Ladies Magazine (the original) was the FIRST to publish work ONLY by American writers MOSTLY women. Edgar Allen Poe was the literary editor for some years in the 1840s. If you read the magazines, you get a real sense of what the life of ordinary American women was like back then — not a picnic. Sarah Hale was instrumental in persuading Matthew Vassar to open a college for women. Imagine! She believed deeply that women should not be obliged to stake their lives on what she called the “matrimonial lottery.” Her marriage was happy and after her husband died, she wore black for the rest of her life. She wrote often about that and said straight up that she was just lucky.

        The magazine included what are essentially blue prints for houses and those houses were built all over the country. Sometimes I see one. I know of one for sure here in Monte Vista.

        I could (and have) go on and on and on and on…

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes!!! I ended up with pages of research as I learned more and more of her. And hearing you share it is WAY better. 😘 one thing that stood out to me~she did it all without the pressure of politics. It amazes me she was editing up to the age of 90. Life goal!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Martha, I just read your post. Comments are closed so I’ll share that I was thinking of such similar thoughts in all of the Sarah Hale’s we have missed in history. I’m still shocked that I had not heard of her. I’m so glad to meet her. ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Real Thanksgiving – Women's Wilderness Legend: Living the Metaphor

  7. Loved this post, Karla. So interesting to read the history and especially that original rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and a little about the author. Really enjoyed the Thanksgiving song, too. But try as I may, I couldn’t find a picture of a Karla smile here anywhere!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Fascinating post! Karla, your research into the life of Sarah Josepha Hale highlights the impact one life can make. So many owe a sincere moment of gratitude for her efforts. I also find the coincidence of her last name matching yours to be a blessing as two writers meet.


  9. Incredibly fascinating! Hugs to you for taking the time to not only research BUT to compile a lovely post about her to share with all of us. I feel I shall dig in deeper as her words of wisdom are just as applicable today!

    Liked by 1 person

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