There are no Thanksgiving traditions about twelve year old John Hooke. No songs, no poems, no pilgrim lore. Yet of all the long forgotten stories from the original 102 people aboard the Mayflower in 1620, maybe little John's is one we ought to remember.
When John Hooke's father died, his mother signed an apprenticeship agreement with a tailor, Isaac Allerton. This arrangement meant John was under the tutelage of a master who would show him a trade, provide food and clothing, and teach him about religion and faith.
Perhaps the faith and religion lessons were the most difficult. The next year young John sailed with Allerton and his family on the Mayflower. John died that first brutal winter in Plymouth.
Abraham Lincoln wrote in his proclamation of Thanksgiving as a National Holiday in 1863, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown." How right Mr. Lincoln was, and is. Accustomed to the blessings of this world, it's easy to lose a spirit of thankfulness and lose touch with the spirit of Thanksgiving.
His gift is that he reminds me of how rich I am. When I was John Hooke's age, I was singing, "Over the river and through the woods ..." On Thanksgiving Day, I was eating extra pie, waiting for the Dallas Cowboys' game, warming by the fire, or jumping in a pile of leaves. None of these things are wrong. In fact, that's what is right about Thanksgiving. That's the "Thanksgiving Hooke." It's the peace I've enjoyed for which I must give thanks. It is the bounty of Heaven ... the love of family ... the blessings of a gracious God ... and the gift of a little apprentice boy.
We know of no significant contribution he made to the Mayflower mission. He did not sign the Mayflower Compact. He likely had no choice but to get on board that boat. Yet his gift is that he reminds me of how rich I am. John Hooke gives us perspective and calls us to search our hearts for the same measure of sacrifice and an extra helping of thankfulness.
The Biblical word most like the old English concept of apprentice is "disciple." Here again is the "Thanksgiving Hooke." Will we attach ourselves to a master teacher? Will we go where He goes? Will we sail with Him to another land in faith? Will we be pilgrims? Will we be apprentices of Jesus?
Maybe it's enough today to ask, "Will we be thankful?"