According to the TSA, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest travel period of the year in the United States. Nearly 55 million people traveled 50 miles or more from their home during this period last year. AAA is predicting that number to be even higher this year.
Anyone who has ever traveled during Thanksgiving week knows what a harrowing experience it can be. It doesn’t take much for congested highways, accidents, delayed flights, canceled flights, and bad weather to turn a joyous holiday adventure into a downright miserable one.
Before you let the impending anxiety of Thanksgiving holiday travel get you down, take a moment to think about what the original Thanksgiving travelers—the Pilgrims—endured.
They began their journey on two ships (The Speedwell and the Mayflower) on August 6, 1620. But a leak in the Speedwell shortly after departing Southampton, England forced them to dock in Dartmouth a few hours into their journey.
After a nearly three-week layover to repair the ship, they finally departed Dartmouth on August 24 for what they expected to be a speedy jaunt across the Atlantic Ocean. But the Speedwell sprung another leak after traveling only 300 miles.
The Pilgrims had to stop in Plymouth, England to repair the second leak. At this point, the decision was made to abandon the Speedwell and attempt the crossing with just one ship.
Most of the Speedwell passengers and their cargo were loaded onto the already overcrowded Mayflower, which subsequently disembarked Plymouth on September 6.
If you’re keeping count, the Pilgrims had already been living on board the ships for more than six weeks. Can you imagine having to “live” in an airport or even a hotel for a six-week travel delay?
The Mayflower—a 100-foot merchant ship scantily reconfigured to carry passengers as if they were cargo—traversed the Atlantic for the next 66 days.
During that time, passengers slept and lived in low-ceiling cargo bays. Anyone taller than five feet would’ve been unable to stand upright. For fear of being swept overboard, passengers were rarely permitted to come above deck, which meant no fresh air.
The Mayflower ran out of fresh food several days into the trip. The passengers were forced to survive on rationed meals of salted meats and jaw-breakingly hard biscuits for the remainder of the trip.
On December 21, the exhausted, malnourished Pilgrims finally stepped ashore in the New World.
Was it worth it? Were the sacrifices the Pilgrims made and the hardships they persevered worth it?
I suspect their ancestors would reply with a resounding “YES!”
The General Society of Mayflower Descendants estimates about 10 million living Americans descended from the Pilgrims.
Nine U.S. presidents (John Adams, John Quincy Adams, George Bush Sr. and Jr., Calvin Coolidge, James Garfield, Ulysses Grant, Franklin Roosevelt and Zachary Taylor), several vice-presidents, as well as numerous statesmen, authors, and celebrities can trace their roots to someone on board the Mayflower.
Amelia Earhart, Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Cena, and even Taylor Swift are Mayflower descendants.
(*Swifty fans should know that their beloved Taylor almost never was. Her lineage is traced to Mayflower passenger Francis Billington, who came close to being tossed overboard as punishment for recklessly shooting a gun inside a cabin that narrowly missed a barrel of gunpowder!)
The success enjoyed by the aforementioned descendants was arguably set in motion by their Mayflower ancestors. They owe a debt of gratitude to their ancestors for having the courage to board the ship, make the necessary sacrifices, and persevere the accompanying hardships.
A big part of being a good teammate is appreciating those who came before you—the individuals whose sacrifices set you up for success.
Who of your “ancestors” (i.e., good teammates who preceded you) helped you get to where you are? Do you have ancestral gratitude for the courage they displayed, sacrifices they made, or hardships they persevered?
Relatedly, good teammates appreciate the opportunity they have to impact their descendants’ lives by displaying courage, making sacrifices, and persevering hardships. Who of your “descendants” will your current choices impact?
Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to consider both questions. Be thankful for those teammates who came before you and grateful for the opportunity to impact those who will come after you.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.