I’m looking forward to eating dinner on the “Mayflower” again someday. Instead of our own six children, it will be their children that huddle with me in the dark and pretend they are on the Mayflower, eating hardtack and dried meat while the winds blow and the ship pitches on the waves.
Help your children appreciate the risks the Pilgrims took to come to the New World where they could freely worship God. One day between now and Thanksgiving, stuff everyone into the most cramped, uncomfortable, and damp place around your house and proclaim it the Mayflower. Use a closet, a corner of the garage, the basement, or a storage shed or attic. At our old house, when the kids were tiny, we squeezed between some storage shelves in our dark, damp, musty basement. At our present home, we climbed the steps to the attic over our office and found a cold, crowded place to crouch over our one plate of food.
Hide a CD player or set up your MP3 player and speakers in a nearby space, and play a recording of ocean storm sound effects (download from Amazon or other sources.)
Light one single candle and turn out the lights, and eat a simple meal of stale biscuits, salted beef, and ale or water while Daddy reads stories of the Pilgrims and their adventures.
Try to imagine what it must have been like to be squeezed into a 90-foot long ship with 132 people, with the inevitable smells of chamber pots and sea-sickness, the crying of weary children, the darkness, the dampness, the rolling of the ship on the waves, and the fatigue of many long days and nights sailing over the endless sea. (Set a smelly bag of garbage or the diaper pail in your “ship” to add a little more authenticity.) 🙂
Pray and thank God for the Pilgrims’ courage and sacrifice, and ask Him to make you and your family strong and courageous, and willing to follow Him wherever He leads you.
Things to gather or prepare before your Mayflower dinner:
- “Hardtack” – make a batch of biscuits without shortening, and leave them in a safe place to grow stale
- Dried beef (thin slices of salted meat that usually come rolled up in a glass jelly-type jar)
- Ale (our kids always thought this was yucky) or water
- Ocean storm sound effects – CD or MP3 download (Amazon is a good source)
- CD or MP3 player with speakers
- A candle in a sturdy candle holder
- A dark, crowded space where you can eat together
- Any other props you would like: costume materials, wooden or metal cups, plates, bowls, etc.
- Books or stories to read (read ahead to choose appropriate excerpts to read aloud):
Pilgrim Stories, by Margaret Pumphrey (available free online)
Boy on the Mayflower, by Iris Vinton
The Landing of the Pilgrims, by James Daugherty
If You Sailed on the Mayflower, by Ann McGovern
History of Plymouth Plantation, by William Bradford (available free online)
Many accounts are available online. Search on “Pilgrims on Mayflower” for plenty of resources. MayflowerHistory.com is a good place to start.