J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

“For ’tis Thanksgiving Day”

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Lydia “Maria” Francis was born the youngest of six children in Medford, Massachusetts. in 1802. Maria was an educated woman and at the age of twelve she went to live with her married sister living in Maine. She studied for her teacher’s exams, passed them and taught for a short time. While in Maine she visited with the Penobscot Indian settlement and began an interest in the Native Americans especially in their treatment and rights.

It was during the time she was living with her brother where Maria was introduced to literature and developed her lifelong interest in writing. In 1828 she married David Child and the couple moved to Boston.

Her most famous work was her poem published in 1844 that she titled “The New England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day”. ​
Over the river and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
as over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,
with a clear blue winter sky.
The dogs do bark and the children hark,
as we go jingling by.

Over the river and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling ding!”
Hurray for Thanskgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood—
no matter for winds that blow;
or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow.

Over the river and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann.
We will kiss them all, and play snowball
and stay as long as we can.

Over the river and through the wood,
trot fast my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river and through the wood
and straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow—
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood—
Old Jowler hears our bells;
he shakes his paw with a loud bow-wow,
and thus the news he tells.

Over the river and through the wood—
when Grandmother sees us come,
she will say, “Oh, dear, the children are here,
bring pie for everyone.”

Over the river and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?

Hurrah for the pumpkin pie! {1}
At some unknown point in time the poem was set to music and throughout the years various words have changed. We usually sing “to grandmother’s house we go” and the original poem was “over the river and through the wood” has been changed to “woods”. In some versions the holiday has been changed to “Hurrah it’s Christmas Day”. Many verses have been eliminated when the song is performed but her basic poem remains.

Mrs. Child was an active abolitionist and along with her husband the couple wrote many articles that expressed their anti-slavery views. She also was an activist in the area of women’s rights. The couple were close friends of Charles Sumner and were vocal after his famous Senate beating. In a rebuke of that action she wrote the story “The Kansas Emigrants” which was serialized in the daily and weekly editions in the New York Daily Tribune.

Sadly for Lydia the woman that wrote the Thanksgiving poem that we sing as to “grandmother’s house we go” – never was a grandmother or a mother – but her poem has delighted generations.​

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🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

Sources
1. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/lydia-maria-child
2. https://historybecauseitshere.weebl…ores-over-the-river-and-through-the-wood.html
3. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/24074927/lydia-maria-child

(Article Courtesy of Civil War Talk, Wednesday, November 25, 2020 ed.)

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One thought on ““For ’tis Thanksgiving Day”

  1. Bill Witt on said:

    I love you…bw

    >

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