The holiday feast that we know as Thanksgiving dates back to November, 1621, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered together for an autumn harvest celebration. Fast forward to 1939 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Congress that finalized the commemoration of Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November. From ancient times to the present, from a Roman statesman to literary giants, to unforgettable world figures, to an American president’s tragic end and, lastly, to a hugely popular contemporary icon and philanthropist, gratitude has been considered an important virtue, if not the most important virtue. The following individuals take us on a journey through the ages with words that are as significant today as when they were first spoken.
Cicero, 106BC to 43BC Roman Statesman and Author. “A grateful heart is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all the other virtues.”
William Shakespeare, 1564 to 1616 English Playwright and Poet. “Small cheer and great welcome make a merry feast.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882 American Philosopher and Poet. “I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends the old and the new.”
- Henry, 1862 to 1920 American Author of Short Stories.” “There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.”
Elie Wiesel, 1928 to 2016 Romanian-born American writer who survived the Holocaust. “For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I meet someone and look at his or her smile.”
Anne Frank, 1929-1945 German-Dutch Diarist who did not survive the Holocaust. “No one has ever become poor from giving.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917 to 1963 35th President of the United States. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Oprah Winfrey 1954- Contemporary American Icon and Philanthropist. “No gesture is too small when done in gratitude.”
This Thanksgiving, when so many of us will not be gathering together, think of those you love that you wish were with you. Think good thoughts, then express your good wishes, because those words will surely find their way into hearts.
“In the Lion’s Den,” Barbara Taylor Bradford; “Nothing Good Happens After Midnight: A Suspense Magazine Anthology,” Jeffery Deaver with additional stories by others; “Before She Disappeared,” Lisa Gardner; “Dark Tides,” Philippa Gregory; “The Diplomat’s Wife,” Pam Jenoff; “All the Colors of Night,” Jayne Ann Krentz; “Happily This Christmas,” Susan Mallery; “The Russian,” James Patterson and James O. Born; “Neighbors,” Danielle Steel; “Hush-Hush,” Stuart Woods.
“Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live,” Nicholas A. Christakis, MD PhD; “Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise,” Scott Eyman; “No Time Like The Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality,” Michael J. Fox; “The World Almanac and Books of Facts 2021,” Sarah Janssen; “Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House,” Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz; “The Last Days of John Lennon,” James Patterson; “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future,” Pope Francis; “The Best of Me,” David Sedaris.
Juvenile: “Curse of the Mystery Mutt: A Middle School Story,” James Patterson with Steven Butler.
Young Adult: “The Cousins,” Karen M. McManus; “The Tower of Nero,” Rick Riordan.
Children’s Picture Books:
“The Purple Puffy Coat,” Maribeth Boelts; “The World Needs Who You Were Made To Be,” Joanna Gaines; “The Trouble with Penguins,” Rebecca Jordan-Glum; “Rocket Loves Hide-and-Seek!” Tad Hills; “Natalie Portman’s Fables,” Natalie Portman; “Kitties on Dinosaurs,” Michael Slack; “How to Catch a Snowman,” Adam Wallace.