Guest Post: Karen Johnson, on Five Grains of Corn


Karen Johnson sent me this story, and am passing it on in case you are reading this between viewing the Macy’s parade, putting the turkey in the oven, and watching football. I am also sending another post in an entirely different vein, but worth thinking about, called Engage with Grace.

From Karen Johnson:
I thought you might be interested in a story that has become part of our family Thanksgiving tradition. My father was a printer, and at Thanksgiving he would distribute hundreds of copies of this story on burnt orange paper. At home by each Thanksgiving Dinner plate were five grains of corn, and this was read before dinner:

Five Grains of Corn

THANKSGIVING is distinctly an American holiday; there is nothing like it elsewhere in the world. It celebrates neither a savage battle nor the fall of a great city. It does not mark the anniversary of a great conqueror or the birthday of a famous statesman. It does not commemorate the writing of a historic public document or the launching of a new constitution. The American Thanksgiving Day is the expression of a deep feeling of gratitude by our people for the rich productivity of the land, a memorial of the dangers and hardships through which we have safely passed, and a fitting recognition of all that God in His goodness has bestowed upon us.

In early New England it was the custom at Thanksgiving time to place five grains of corn at every plate as a reminder of those stern days in the first winter when the food of the Pilgrims was so depleted that only five grains of corn were rationed to each individual at a time. The Pilgrim Fathers wanted their children to remember the sacrifice, suffering and hardship which made possible the settlement of a free people in a free land. They wanted to keep alive the memory of that long sixty-three-day trip taken in the tiny Mayflower. They desired to keep alive the thought of that “stern and rock bound coast,” its inhospitable welcome, and the first terrible winter which took such a toll of lives. They did not want their descendants to forget that on the day in which their ration was reduced to five grains of corn only seven healthy colonists remained to nurse the sick, and nearly half their numbers lay in the “windswept graveyard” on the hill. They did not want to forget that when the Mayflower sailed back to England in the spring, only the sailors were aboard.

The use of five grains of corn placed by each plate was a fitting reminder of a heroic past. Symbolically it may still serve as a useful means of recalling those great gifts for which we are grateful to God. The first grain of corn might stand for that wonderful beauty of nature which is all about us.

by Dr. Bliss Forbush

My note: Karen says that before she left to visit family for the holidays she wrapped up a financial system implementation for a telecom manufacturer. She has just returned from two major conferences, The 21st World Continuous Auditing & Reporting Symposium Rutgers
http://raw.rutgers.edu/ and The XBRL US National Conference 2010
http://xbrl.us/events/Pages/natconf2010/home.aspx.

Thank you for this contribution, Karen.

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One thought on “Guest Post: Karen Johnson, on Five Grains of Corn

  1. Thanks for such a nice post but don’t forget to check out the exterior of your home as well. Clogged drains, gutters, or downspouts can be major culprits when it comes to channeling water in the wrong direction. Additionally, landscape slope can play a major role. Landscaping should always slope away from your home. Sloping towards it means the risk of channeling excess water into your home and not filtering it away from it. Even re-landscaping your yard is preferable to repairing major basement flooding.flooded basement

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