Reprinting My Plymouth Rock Has Become a Thanksgiving Tradition

I originally wrote My Plymouth Rock for Thanksgiving, 2007. It’s becoming a Thanksgiving tradition to republish it, because I think it’s important for all Americans to remember how most of us arrived here.

My Plymouth Rock

The Statue of Liberty greeted all four of my grandparents when they sailed in to Ellis Island in New York Harbor.

I first learned about the Pilgrims in 1963, when I was in second grade and Columbus’s discovery of America was still considered an unqualified success that logically led to eating turkey on the fourth Thursday in November. It would be years before I learned that the natives provided the first Thanksgiving dinner, and a few years more before I realized that my grandparents hadn’t been there.


My Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock. My grandparents didn’t land there.

Gradually, I became vaguely aware that my grandparents came to America on a boat that wasn’t the Mayflower and that they hadn’t come from England, but from a country that no longer existed. I was not sure how countries could disappear. As a seven year old, I still believed maps were drawn with permanent ink.

I knew that my grandparents and the Pilgrims were all old, but that three hundred years separated them was beyond my elementary reasoning.

My grandparents and the Pilgrims were all immigrants. That John Winthrop left behind landed wealth and my grandparents hand-carried their two silver candlesticks didn’t diminish the fact that they all abandoned their birth lands for America.

Like the Pilgrims, my grandparents sought religious freedom. That Puritanism and Judaism are different religions didn’t concern my second-grade mind. My focus was on the basics – like Palmer script.

We ate turkey and cranberry sauce and thought about the long-suffering Pilgrims in their tall hats and buckled boots (as we had been taught in school), but we were really celebrating the endurance of all Pilgrims, including my grandparents. My grandparents had ripped themselves up from European soil just before they would have been weeded out. They transplanted themselves like seedlings in clay pots, to small, Brooklyn apartments, with narrow windowsills, and they raised their children on pavement.

My grandparents survived the transatlantic passage and crossed the threshold of America at the immigration station on Ellis Island. They climbed the stairs into the Great Hall, where they stood for inspection by the six-second doctors in the glow of electric lights, which they had probably never seen before. Under the great, vaulted ceiling, they each waited in the hot press of travel-worn pilgrims—all hopeful, all stinking of excitement and fear.

My grandfather Jacob arrived in 1914. He sent the money he earned as a shoemaker to my grandmother and uncles, who joined him in 1921.

Both my parents were born in this country. They are Americans, but I think of them as pilgrims too, like all the rest. Their pilgrimages took them to ivy-covered halls and on to pioneering professional careers and a house in the suburbs, where they cultivated my three brothers and me.

The four of us have scattered across the continent, on pilgrimages of our own. And it’s this tradition of seeking freedom and meaning that we celebrate on this uniquely American holiday.

At Thanksgiving in my house, we eat turkey and salute my grandparents who stepped ashore on Ellis Island, my family’s Plymouth Rock.

This essay was broadcast on the stations of Vermont Public Radio on 11/22/2007. You can listen to the broadcast here.

alternate headshotDeborah Lee Luskin is a novelist, radio commentator, public speaker, educator and blogger who posts an essay every Wednesday at  

For one day


You may have noticed that I was a little, um passionate last week. Still am. And plan on continuing to be.

I still think that we writers have a lot of work to do. That call-to-action is for all writers, because even if you write fiction, freedom of speech – which translates to all printed material – may be challenged like never before in the next four years. I believe that we’re going to have to go into this uncharted territory with eyes wide open.

But today, I’ve got all of my kids home from college. In just a bit, I’ll start cooking sides and desserts in preparation for our family Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

I’ll dig out the fancy dishes and polish the table.

For one day. I’ll do my damndest to stay off of social media. I plan to give my mind and my blood pressure a much needed rest.

And then trust me on this; I’ll be back with my words to continue doing what I can.

Because I have to – this one is too important to sit out.

But for one day, for one day, I will try and dull the remembrance. I’ll join others in America and be grateful for the blessings I have. I will rejoice in my family and friends.

They are what keep me strong.

My sincerest wishes for a calming and joyous holiday to all of our readers and their families. May you eat to your heart’s content. May you relax with those you love. And may you be at peace.


Site Admin Note: Over the next few days, we’ll be moving to If you have trouble reaching us, we hope you’ll be patient as the new domain name resolves. Thanks so much from the NHWN Team.


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

It’s Thanksgiving Week – What Are You Grateful For?

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the U.S. and many people have the day off (and some even have Friday off for a 4-day weekend).

For the most part I’ll have the 4-day weekend to do what I want, including working on my NaNo novel (National Novel Writing Month). I’m a lot behind on the word count, but I’m determined to hit that 50,000 word goal by midnight on Nov 30th. Very grateful for the quiet time!

I enjoy this time of year, in particular, to take more time to pause, reflect on the year-to-date, and to give thanks.

  • I’m thankful for my family, friends, roommate, and exceptional business associates.
  • I’m grateful for my accountability system that includes tools, of course, but most importantly weekly, monthly, and annual checkins with fellow writers.
  • I’m thankful for new writing opportunities.
  • I’m grateful for variety in many things – music, friends, work, projects, exercise routines, places to work, adventures to try, and places to visit.
  • I’m thankful for my new place – its convenience to everything important to me, its newness, layout, accessories, and size.
  • I’m grateful for technology that enables me to work from anywhere at any time.
  • I’m thankful for this blog – my co-bloggers and you readers – I’m always learning something new!

If you’re traveling this holiday – I wish you the safest and smoothest travels and hope you make great family memories.

If people are coming to your home, I wish you many hands to make meal prep easy and that you can find a few minutes to take a breath and appreciate those gathered around you.

(I’m also thankful for fleece socks, flannel sheets, new journals to write in, and new books to read.)

What are you grateful or thankful for as we approach the end of 2016?

Special note: Over the next few days, we’ll be moving to If you have trouble reaching us, please be patient as the new domain name resolves. Thanks for your patience! The NHWN Team.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

The Thanksgiving Reader

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share with you the Thanksgiving Reader, posted by Seth Godin, to be shared around our Thanksgiving tables this year, and for years to come. It’s a beautiful compilation of stories, quotes, and art.

Earlier this week, my colleagues here at Live to Write—Write to Live shared their take on being grateful and giving thanks. (Here’s a link to Lisa’s post and to Julie’s post.)

Today I’d like to share with you two quotes from the Thanksgiving Reader that resonated with me the most:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events.

It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. “

–Melody Beattie


“I think that we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do—by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.

–Robert Nelson Jacobs

I’d also like to take a moment to say I’m truly grateful for this community here at Live to Write—Write to Live. I hope each of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving, whether you are working or at home, alone or with a crowd, cooking or eating leftovers, surrounded by loved ones or missing them today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, family physician, and life coach. I’m also planning to win NaNo in a few days. I’m a little behind, but not as much as in years past at this time! If you like, you can join me at Rodger’s Memorial Library in Hudson, NH, for a Write-In on Saturday, November 28th. For more information, click here. It’s a chance to use the power of the group to power through those last few (thousand!) words on the way to 50,000. Hope to see you there!






The Act of Gratitude

Gratitude The Reason for the Season Not just nice to have, it's necessayDid you all read Lisa’s post on Monday? She and I are on the same wave length this week. Holidays are both wonderful, and stress soup. I want to focus on why gratitude isn’t just nice, it’s necessary.

Even in the most trying of times, there is something to be grateful for. Finding and focusing on that one thing can provide much needed peace, even for a moment.

Gratitude keeps us humble. Implicit in gratitude searches is being willing to say “thank you” in acknowledgment.

Gratitude is more attractive than entitlement. Enough said.

Wishing all of you, dear readers, a wonderful, gratitude filled Thanksgiving.


Julie Hennrikus, J.A. Hennrikus, and Julianne Holmes are all grateful for a lot this fall.




Happy Thanksgiving!

My son and I were talking about Thanksgiving the other day and I was trying to explain the holiday to him. I mentioned that it’s a day when we all think about what we’re grateful for. I gave him the 5-year –old version of my definition, but I thought I’d share the most useful definition of gratitude I’ve come across with you, the writing community here at Live to Write-Write to Live, a community I am so grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Definition of Gratitude*

First, gratitude is the acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life.

Second, gratitude is the recognition that the source(s) of the goodness lies at least partially outside the self.

Using this definition, gratitude is more than an attitude, more than a feeling. It requires a willingness to recognize that:

  • One has been the beneficiary of someone’s kindness,
  • The benefactor has intentionally provided a benefit, and
  • The benefit has value in the eyes of the beneficiary.


*adapted from Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, by Robert Emmons.


Some Gratitude Resources


Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, by Robert A. Emmons, PhD

The Psychology of Gratitude, by Robert A Emmons

Gratitude: A Way of Life, by Louise L. Hay

Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude, by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Gratitude: A Journal, by Catherine Price

Forgive For Good, by Dr. Frederic Luskin

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brene Brown

Guided Meditation CD

Becoming The New Human: Creating Change Through The Power of Our Emotions, Audio CD of Guided Meditations by Evelyn Rysdyk and Allie Knowlton


Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, life coach, family physician, mother, and stepmother. I am so grateful to this community for it’s support and encouragement. Thank you!

Giving Thanks

On Thanksgiving Day, on any day, each of us at NHWN can’t help but feel thankful to be living a writer’s life. Today we share our thoughts with you. We’d love to hear from you. Why are you thankful to be living a writer’s life?

Photograph/© Susan W. Nye, 2010


Jamie Lee Wallace I am thankful for the way my writing helps me connect with others. For most of my life, I was a “private writer” – capturing my words only on the pages of personal journals. It wasn’t until I discovered the world of online writing that I took a chance and shared my writing with an audience. That first encounter with “readers” changed my beliefs about what was possible for me. I read comments about how my words had helped someone gain understanding, change their perspective, or feel less alone and my confidence grew. From simple blogging, my writing journey has led me to all manner of new opportunities, experiences, and friends. And I am grateful for each and every one.

Head shot of Lee LaughlinI am thankful to work in a field that is filled with people who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise.  People who genuinely care about helping others who want to stretch their wings or improve their writing.  Like any field there are egocentrics and blow hards, but my experience has been more with those who are kind and give of themselves freely and I am so grateful for that support.


Lisa Jackson, editorLisa Jackson: I’m thankful for living a writer’s life because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. To be living my dream, well, it’s satisfying on numerous levels. To make a living doing what I love instead of what may pays the best keeps the stress down and the smiles plentiful. I’m thankful to be able to work in my home office instead of for a corporation that assigns me a small, generic cubicle with no view. I’m thankful to be able to make my own schedule, and to work out of cafes, and to meet other writers on our own terms. I can’t imagine a better life than a writer’s. Pouring words onto a page for others to read at any time is always exciting.

Susan Nye: I am thankful for the simple joy that comes from weaving words together. I love it when words flow and create a rhythm to enhance, not just tell a story. A lot of my work is memoir based. Whether it’s teenage melodrama or learning to ride a bike, when the words work, it’s like I’m there again. I can smell the damp summer air, feel the dew that turns my sleek do into bad hair minutes before the dance. I can feel the tingle of excitement, accomplishment and satisfaction that comes with that first ride without training wheels.

Even better, I’m thankful when the story touches a reader and reminds him or her of a similar angst or thrill. A few years ago I wrote a short essay about my mother and her friends. From my then-ten-year old niece to strangers on the street, many readers have told me how much it meant to them and reminded them of either their mothers or themselves or both.

Wendy Thomas: I have always wanted to be a storyteller and I am nothing short of eternally grateful that I have the opportunity to be one. Nothing and I mean nothing makes me feel more valued than when a reader tells me my stories have moved her, or brought tears to her eyes, or have inspired her to take action. I tell stories to share my experiences, understand this thing called life, teach others, and as a legacy to pass onto my children. Through a gift I’ve been given, I’m allowed to give to others. How could I not be grateful for that?

J.A. HennrikusJulie Hennrikus: Recently someone commented on one of my Facebook posts and said that my posts about writing and theater were always passionate. I am grateful that I embrace these passions. I am grateful that I have found communities that support these passions, and share them. I am grateful for my fellow bloggers and their support and encouragement. I am grateful that I continue to find joy in writing, and that I want to get better. I am very blessed in many ways, and grateful for all of them. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!