Faithful Pilgrims and Mom’s Apple Crumb Pie

What does Faith have to do with Thanksgiving? Everything.

Hi Ladies! I wanted to introduce you to one of my very close friends, Melanie, who is a middle school History teacher. She enlightened me that so much of our American History stems from our ancestors and their faith. I’m so excited to introduce you to her…here is her story! Thanks Mel!

Melanie and her family (our boys are buddies)
Melanie with her students on a trip to DC

Thanksgiving makes us think of spending time with family, eating too much food, watching football, and giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives. It brings the same thoughts to my mind, but I also think about the historic perspective of this American holiday.

I have been an eighth grade American History teacher for 14 years. Over those years, my knowledge and appreciation for our country’s history has deepened. Young children dress up as Pilgrims and Indians and share in a Thanksgiving feast. It’s true, the Pilgrims and Indians did share a meal together, but the story of the Pilgrims is much more than that one event.

(my girls)

In my classroom when we cover the Pilgrims, we discuss the persecution, relocation, hardships, the establishment of Plymouth, and their relationships with the natives. However, I want to talk about their FAITH. The Pilgrims were defined by their faith.

The Pilgrims were persecuted for their beliefs in England. They refused to change their beliefs even though it was dangerous to disagree with the Church of England. On their journey to the New World, they faced ridicule and scorn from the sailors of the Mayflower. Storms ravaged their ship and cracked the main mast. They discussed turning back, but they believed God wanted them to travel to this new country just as the Israelites were delivered from Egypt.

When they finally landed on the east coast of America, they dropped to their knees and gave thanks to God. William Bradford described the scene, “Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth.” Their excitement was short-lived. The first winter brought terrible living conditions and very little food. Diseases ravaged the Pilgrims and about one half of their population died. Still, the survivors remained faithful in their belief that God would provide.

In the spring, the Pilgrims met Squanto, a Native American who spoke broken English. He introduced them to Samoset, another native who spoke English. These two men helped the Pilgrims learn how to fertilize the soil for their crops and helped them establish a relationship with the local native tribe.

That summer and fall brought a successful harvest. The Pilgrims had a tradition to celebrate the harvest with a meal of “thanksgiving” where they gave thanks to God for all He had provided. The first Thanksgiving is thought to be celebrated with waterfowl, wild turkeys and fish caught by the colonists, and five deer brought by the Native Americans.

The Pilgrims were by no means perfect people, but they did not allow extreme circumstances to shake their faith. They believed they could find a place where they could freely practice their religious beliefs without persecution. Almost 400 years later, we are blessed to live in a country where we are free to practice our faith. This is a luxury that is still denied to people all over the world.

It is easy to trust in God and have faith when times are good, but how does our faith and trust weather the storms of our lives? The Pilgrims’ faith was as strong as the rock that commemorates their landing in Plymouth, MA

He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:6

“Not a feast of glutony, or of fools, but a feast of thanksgiving. To honor God for surely without Him, we would not be.”

-William Bradford

My Mom’s Apple Pie

Interesting fact: What’s more “American” than apple pie? Actually, not one ingredient in this apple pie recipe is native to the Americas. Each ingredient is native to Europe or Asia.

Crumb-Topped Apple Pie Recipe

Easy Oil Pastry Crust

2 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp. salt
½ cup oil
½ cup cold water
Mix flour and salt together. Measure oil in large measuring cup. Add cold water, but do not stir. Add all at once to flour. Stir until mixed. Shape into 2 balls. Roll between waxed paper. Place on 9-inch pie plate and pinch sides.


6 – 8 Jonathan apples, peeled and sliced (about 6 cups)
½ lemon, squeezed
½ cup sugar
½ – 1 tsp. cinnamon
Mix the above ingredients and pour into pastry-lined 9-inch pie plate.

Top Crumb Crust

½ cup sugar

½ cup flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup butter (softened but not melted)

Stir together first three ingredients. Cut in butter using a knife, fork, or pastry cutter. Bake at 400⁰ for 40 minutes with foil or a crust cover on top of the outside crust. Remove foil or crust cover and bake for 10 minutes longer. The filling should be bubbling for the last 5 – 10 minutes.

Melanie, thank you so much for sharing history and your mom’s delicious recipe with us! It is such an awesome thought that our nation came to be because our ancestors had faith in God. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!



  1. fascinating. The apple pie looks wonderful.

  2. Thanks for the lesson. What DVD was that clip of the video taken from? I believe I have seen it before but can not put my finger on it. Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  3. Jen Bucknell says:

    The pie looks amazing! Thank you for the reminder of the faith that built our nation. God bless!

  4. LOVED the history lesson!! I get sooo caught up in the planning & hosting that I forget to really stop & think what Thanksgiving is all about. The pilgrims faith & preserverance made me look at my own faith & preserverance. Thanks for a GREAT reminder!!

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