On gratitude and Thanksgiving


As I often do on holidays, I give this space over this week to those who are brighter, wiser and more thoughtful than I am, that their words may bring you a small hint of the spirit of the season. Here then are a few words touching on the topics of gratitude and thanksgiving, passed along with wishes from all of us at News & Neighbor that you may have the happiest of Thanksgivings.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

Abraham Lincoln

Come, ye restful people, come, raise the song of harvest home.

Henry Alford

Over the river and through the woods,
Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Lydia Maria Child, The New-England Boy’s Song About Thanksgiving Day

So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song,
In thankfulness of heart.

Arthur Gutterman

God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.

E. B. Browning

One who claims to be a self-made man attempts to relieve the Lord of too much responsibility.


For whatever a man has is in reality only a gift.

Christoph Wieland

Gratitude is not only the greatest virtue. It is the mother of all the rest.


Though my mouth be dumb, my heart shall thank you.

Nicholas Rowe

Praise the bridge that carried you over.

George Coleman

Thanksgiving for a former doth invite God to bestow a second benefit.

Robert Herrick

Lord, for the erring thought
Not into evil wrought:
Lord, for the wicked will
Betrayed and baffled still:
For the heart from itself kept,
Our thanksgiving accept.

William Dean Howells

Let the man who would be grateful think of repaying a kindness even while accepting it.


Though I ebb in worth, I flow in thanks.

John Taylor

He who acknowledges a kindness has it still, and he who has a grateful sense of it has requited it.


God never made mouth but that he made meat.

Sir Francis Bacon

Whether we have less or more, always thank we God therefor.


And finally, a few anecdotes touching on gratitude, for good measure…

A tramp (for that’s what they were called in those days, now more than a century ago) approached a prosperous looking gentleman and began soliciting alms. When he saw the well-to-do fellow reach into his pocket, the tramp cried out, “May the blessings of God follow you all the days of your life…” But when the wealthy man only pulled out his handkerchief, the tramp added in a quieter tone, “…and never catch up to you.”

The county scoundrel stood up during the revival to speak on the topic of what he was thankful for. “Brothers and sisters,” he began, “you know and I know I have not been the man I should have been. I have robbed henhouses and stole hogs. I have told lies and got blind drunk. I have shot craps and I have cussed and swore and fought and more. But I thank the Lord there is one thing I have never done: I have never lost my religion.”

A pastor tells this tale of dubious gratitude: After the service one Sunday morning, an old woman approached him to thank him for the sermon. “You’ll never know how it felt to listen to your words,” she said. “It was like water to a drowning man.”

Little Mary had been a bad girl and as a result was made to eat her dinner at a small table in the corner of the dining room. The rest of the family dutifully ignored her and would have shunned her the whole meal, except they heard her say grace: “I thank Thee, Lord, for preparing for me a table in the presence of mine enemies.”


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