Traveling Over The River And Through The Wood This Holiday? You Should Know Lydia Maria Child

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Lydia-Maria-Child
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Approximately 42 million Americans are expected to take a road trip this Thanksgiving. So if you’re one of them and plan to go “over the river and through the wood” to anyone’s house tomorrow, you should know that this famed line was originally written in 1844 as part of a Thanksgiving Day poem, not a Christmas song. What’s more… its author was a truly extraordinary Woman You Should Know for far more than this.

Meet Lydia Maria Child (1802–1880) who “ranks among the most influential of nineteenth-century American women writers. She was renowned in her day as a tireless crusader for truth and justice and a champion of excluded groups in American society” – especially Native Americans, slaves, and women.

Lydia was renowned in her day as a tireless crusader for truth and justice and a champion of excluded groups in American society – especially Native Americans, slaves, and women.

A pioneer in several literary genres, “Lydia wrote one of the earliest American historical novels, the first comprehensive history of American slavery, and the first comparative history of women. In addition, she edited the first American children’s magazine, compiled an early primer for the freed slaves, and published the first book designed for the elderly.” As such, she was also one of the earliest American women to earn a living from her writing.

Trivia: Lydia’s original Thanksgiving poem, which we have in its entirety below, was eventually set to a tune by some unknown person. The more modern song version, now considered a Christmas classic, includes alternate lyrics about Christmas.


The New-England Boy’s Song About Thanksgiving Day
(a.k.a. Over The River and Through the Wood)

By Lydia Maria Child

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 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,
Hurra for Thanksgiving 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 snow-ball,
And stay as long as we can.

Over the river, and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple grey!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound,
For ‘t is Thanksgiving day!

Over the river, and through the wood,
And straight through the barn-yard 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 pow,
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 a pie for every one.

Over the river, and through the wood —
Now grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurra for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurra for the pumpkin pie!

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