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THANKSGIVING DAY
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[ Also see Autumn Harvest Harvest Home Holidays Pumpkins Thankfulness ]

Yet it is meet and proper that a nation should set apart an annual day for national giving of thanks. It is a public recognition of God as the Author of all prosperity. It is the erection of a memorial to the honor of him who has led us through another year. The annual proclamations which call to the duty of thanksgiving are calculated to remind the people of their indebtedness to God, to stir in their minds and hearts emotions of gratitude and praise, and to call out thanks and sincere worship which otherwise might not find expression. But if the observance of the day be not marked by real remembering of mercies and by real lifting of hearts to God in thanks, what blessing can possibly come with it?
      - J. Corson Miller

It seems to me that these thoughts are sufficient to awaken your gratitude. Let me, however, in conclusion, cast the horoscope and prophesy of the coming future of my beloved country. Poets have sung of the "parliament of nations, the federation of the world," and that great soldier who drew his sword only to conquer, who has visited all lands, and who to-day is a citizen of the world--that great soldier is the John the Baptist of this "parliament of nations, this federation of the world," in proclaiming everywhere a citizenship intelligent, cultured, Christian, and we are to follow in his glorious wake in our mission to the nations of the world. I do not look for a universal republic, but I dream of this parliament of nations, when wars shall cease, when the drum shall be silent, when the cannon shall be heard no more, when- the sword shall be sheathed. I dream of this federation of the world, when the nations shall gather somewhere--on the banks of the Potomac, or on the banks of the Thames, or on the banks of the Tiber. And in this parliament of nations all men shall be brothers; war shall be abolished, and Jesus Christ proclaimed the Saviour of mankind, the Prince of peace, and the Lord of lords. Then will go forth these beautiful words of the Psalmist, "He hath not dealt so with any other nation."
      - John Philip Newman

As we gather about the family board to-day let us remember the houseless and homeless and unbefriended, and be sure that we have done something to make sunshine in their hearts, no matter what November gloom may reign without. And as we grasp the hand and look into the eyes of friend and kinsman, be this the greeting we give: "Brother, whatever else our homes provide to-day of plenty and good cheer, let us provide things honest in the sight of all men," and then, in the name of that Master whom we serve and who has loved us with such a great exceeding love, "let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil-speaking be put away from us with all malice; and let us be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another," whatever the old wound that aches and burns to-day, "even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us."
      - Bishop Henry Codman Potter

For the fruit of the time of our toil;
  For whate'er we have fought for;
    Whether born of the brain or the soil
      Be the meed we have sought for;
        For the gifts we have had from His hand
          Who is Lord of the living,
            Let there ring through the length of the land
              A Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!
      - Clinton Scollard

This world o' God's is brighter than we ever dream or know;
  Its burdens growin' lighter--an' it's Love that makes 'em so!
    An' I'm thankful that I'm livin' where Love's blessedness I see,
      'Neath a heaven that's forgivin', where the bells ring "Home" to me!
      - Frank Lebby Stanton

Great as the preparations were for the dinner, everything was so contrived that not a soul in the house should be kept from the morning service of Thanksgiving in the church.
      - Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe,
        Oldtown Folks (p. 345)

It is not a good spiritual policy for us who are now living to thank God only for the material progress of our times; because these material things will soon give place to something better, and then our prayers and hymns will seem lost, and we who lived for them will seem to perish with them; but if we bless God for the sun that has held us in its arms, and for the autumns that have painted the fields and have set in mezzotint the sky and sea and land, then have we a worship which the future cannot take away from our souls or memories. To nothing better can far-off times ever come. As in this worship of life we can all run back and bend with Bradford and Standish in their prayers, and sit down with them at their feast, thus can the far future come back to us, and see in our religious acts and sentiments something good enough for their more golden age. Man's world changes, but human life may easily find an unchanging greatness. As the goodness of old Governor Bradford shines out through his irregular verse and distorted syntax, thus the merit of our race often is mingled with little defects, but still it may possess a beautiful and everlasting part. As the game and fruits on the table in 1621 would be good for our table to-day, so their happiness would be all we could wish this week in our reunions at home, because man's happiness comes chiefly from the fact of a heart at peace with the universe. Man must, for the most part, give thanks for his life rather than for the field through which it flows.
      - David Swing

We must conclude, therefore, that the great hymn of thanksgiving is not of local origin; it was not written in our prairies alone, but it was composed by the human soul when it first sat down and pondered over the mysterious visit it was making to this realm; and it has been sung ever since by each person who has reached the power of mind that is capable of a deep or sweet or sad thought. This slumbering hymn or prayer simply broke out in 1621. There must have been in that Mayflower group some heart of man or woman which had no concealment. It sang aloud the thanksgiving song of the world, and prayed its prayer to the God of man's being. This one soul said, "Let us have a great autumn feast soon." When New England possessed only about a hundred people it was easy for a feast to become national. What a change since then! For now the feast is proclaimed to sixty-five millions of citizens, and eight hundred railroads are busy carrying the food for the banquet--roads from California with fruits, roads from the South with the products of a long summer-time, trains from the Northwest with bread, trains from the Atlantic coast with food from the tropics and from the sea. What a change since the four men went hunting! And yet the then and the now blend in one song, and that to the God of our life.
      - David Swing

How well I remember that old Thanksgiving dinner! Father at one end, mother at the other end, the children between wondering if father will ever get done carving the turkey. O, that proud, strutting hero of the barnyard, upside down, his plumes gone and minus his gobble! Stuffed with that which he can never digest. The day before, at school, we had learned that Greece was south of Turkey, but on the table we found that turkey was bounded by grease. The brown surface waited for the knife to plunge astride the breast-bone, and with knife sharpened on the jambs of the fire-place, lay bare the folds of white meat. Give to the disposed to be sentimental, the heart. Give to the one disposed to music, the drumstick. Give to the one disposed to theological discussion, the "parson's nose." Then the pies! For the most part a lost art. What mince pies! in which you had all confidence fashioned from all rich ingredients, instead of miscellaneous leavings which are only short of glorified hash! Not mince pies with profound mysteries of origin! But mother made them, sweetened them, flavored them, and laid the lower crust and the upper crust, with here and there a puncture by the fork to let you look through the light and flaky surface into the substance beneath.
      - Thomas De Witt Talmage

We think of Thanksgiving in harvest time--
  In the yielding, gathering golden time;
    When the sky is fringed with a hazy mist,
      And the blushing maples by frost lip kissed;
        When the barns are full with the harvest cheer,
          And the crowning, thankful day draws near.
            We think of Thanksgiving at resting time--
              The circle completed is but a chime
                In the song of life, in the lives of men;
                  We harvest the toils of our years, and then
                    We wait at the gate of the King's highway,
                      For the dawn of our soul's Thanksgiving Day.
      - Mrs. Rose Hartwick Thorpe

Let us, then, as good citizens, as believers in God, gratefully keep Thanksgiving day. Let us crowd to his sanctuaries, and praise God, from whom all blessings flow. Let households and friends gather about their firesides and well-spread boards, and let charities to the poor brighten and commemorate the day, that it may be to us all long a pleasant memory.
      - James Barr Walker

And let these altars, wreathed with flowers
  And piled with fruits, awake again
    Thanksgivings for the golden hours,
      The early and the latter rain!
      - John Greenleaf Whittier,
        For an Autumn Festival

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
  From North and South, come the pilgrim and guest,
    When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
      The old broken links of affection restored,
        When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
          And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before.
            What moistens the lips and what brightens the eye?
              What calls back the past, like the rich pumpkin pie?
      - John Greenleaf Whittier, The Pumpkin


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