The first months were terribly hard. The immigrants didn't know the customs, didn't understand the language, had little grasp of the nature of the place they had come to live in and even less desire to learn of it. Arriving in the middle of winter, totally unprepared for the season's savagery by their experiences in their own country, nearly half were dead by the Spring.
Their hosts had difficulties with the settlers. Their customs, their language, their religion were all so different from what they had known-it was hard to see the point of attempted community. On more than occasion, as it had turned out, befriending the new ones had proven to be unwise as more of their sort just kept showing up and crowding out those who had lived in the area for so many decades.
The emigres were in a precarious predicament. It had taken almost all of their savings to make the trip to what they hoped would be a fresh start. They believed, or wanted to, that if they worked hard and did well, one day they could send for family and friends to join them in their brave adventure. But everyday was a challenge and more often than not, often without a victory. They were isolated, decimated and left to their own devices. It took extraordinary hospitality and courageous kindness by one of the long-time residents of the established community to extend a helping hand and organize support so as the following fall approached the new people had reasons to believe.
How fortunate there was no Secure Border Initiative. Fortunate for us, that is. We, the direct and indirect descendants of those first arrivals four hundred and ninety years ago, are today remembering Thanksgiving, possible only because Samoset ignored the arguments and fears of so many of his fellow Abenaki and welcomed the Pilgrims to the New World, establishing even before we were a nation, our national legacy of welcoming all to our shores.