5 Kernels of Corn: A Family Tradition

Thanksgiving - 5 Kernels of Corn

5 Kernels of Corn

‘Twas the year of the famine in Plymouth of old,
The ice and the snow from the thatched roofs had rolled;
Through the warm purple skies steered the geese o’er the seas,
And the woodpeckers tapped in the clocks of the trees;
And the boughs on the slopes to the south winds lay bare,
and dreaming of summer, the buds swelled in the air.
The pale Pilgrims welcomed each reddening morn;
There were left but for rations Five Kernels of Corn.
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
But to Bradford a feast were Five Kernels of Corn!

Thus reads the first stanza of Hezekiah Butterworths’s poem, “Five Kernels of Corn,” a sobering reminder of how very much we have to be thankful for.

According to the diary of Governor William Bradford, during the famine of 1623, the settlers of Plymouth were forced to subside for several days at a time on just a few grains of corn. In remembrance of those lean times, it is only fitting that we take the opportunity today to count our blessings and thank the Lord for His provision.

Oftentimes, at our family’s Thanksgiving Day celebrations, guests will find 5 kernels of corn beside their plate. And at some point during the meal, we all take turns naming five things for which we’re thankful that year — one for each kernel. It’s a fun way to help keep the day’s focus where it should be.

On Thanksgiving, we leave 5 kernels of corn by each plate, and guests use them to count off five of the year's biggest blessings....

Whether you gather together hand-in-hand with loved ones today to pray for God’s blessing on your meal, or you go around the table individually afterwards and express gratitude for blessings already bestowed, we hope today will not only be a day of feeling generally thankful, but of giving specific thanks TO GOD, from whom all blessings flow.

Keep the conversation going

Want to keep your family members talking? Try our new book of conversation starters. Each set of dinnertime discussion prompts is grouped by topic and ordered by season — 365 questions in all. So you can use them, not only at Thanksgiving, but all year long.

Table Talk Book

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