Ten Thanksgiving Thoughts From Literature

Thanksgiving is a time of abundance: of food, of family, of friends. Here are ten thoughts from authors who have reflected on the holiday in many different ways.

1. “One Day is there of the Series / Termed Thanksgiving Day. / Celebrated part at Table / Part in Memory.” ~ Emily Dickinson

2.  “’I do like to begin seasonable and have things to my mind. Thanksgivin’ dinners can’t be drove, and it does take a sight of victuals to fill all these hungry stomicks,’ said the good woman, as she gave a vigorous stir to the great kettle of cider applesauce, and cast a glance of housewifely pride at the fine array of pies set forth on the buttery shelves.” ~ An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott

3.  Historian and essayist Sarah Vowell knows not all family gatherings are Norman Rockwell scenes. Here are a few lines from her essay, “The First Thanksgiving,” from her collection, The Partly Cloudy Patriot:

“When I invited my mom and dad to come to New York City to have Thanksgiving dinner at my house, I never expected them to say yes. Not only had they never been to New York, they had never been east of the Mississippi. Nor had they ever visited me. I’ve always had these fantasies about being in a normal family in which the parents come to town and their adult daughter spends their entire visit daydreaming of suicide. I’m here to tell you dreams really do come true.”

4.  “Oh, my! It’s fruitcake weather, Buddy!” ~ From “The Thanksgiving Visitor,” in Truman Capote‘s A Christmas Memory

5.  If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.  ~Meister Eckhart

6.  For each new morning with its light, / For rest and shelter of the night, / For health and food, for love and friends, / For everything Thy goodness sends. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

7.  From humorist Dave Barry: “Thanksgiving is also a spiritual time of quiet reflection — a time when we pause to remember, as generations have remembered before us, that an improperly cooked turkey is — in the words of the U.S. Department of Agriculture — ‘a ticking Meat Bomb of Death.’”

8.  Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.  ~William Shakespeare

9.  Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for – annually, not oftener – if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians.  Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man’s side, consequently on the Lord’s side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments.  ~Mark Twain

10.   Anne Frank: “I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy.”