Margaret Fuller, Critic: Writings from the New-York Tribune, 1844-1846

By Judith Mattson Bean; Joel Myerson | Go to book overview

Thanksgiving

Canst thou give thanks for aught that has been given Except by making earth more worth heaven? Just stewardship the master hoped from thee; Harvests from Time to bless Eternity.

Thanksgiving is peculiarly the festival day of New-England. Elsewhere, other celebrations rival its attractions, but in that region where the Puritans first returned thanks that some among them had been sustained by a great hope and earnest resolve amid the perils of the ocean, wild beasts and famine, the old spirit which hallowed the day still lingers, and forbids that it should be entirely devoted to play and plum-pudding.

And yet, as there is always this tendency; as the twelfth-night cake is baked by many a hostess who would be puzzled if you asked her, “Twelfth night after or before what?” and the Christmas cake by many who know no other Christmas service, so it requires very serious assertion and proof from the minister to convince his parishioners that the turky and plum-pudding, which are presently to occupy his place in their attention, should not be the chief objects of the day.

And, in other regions, where the occasion is observed, it is still more as one for a meeting of families and friends to the enjoyment of a good dinner, than for any higher purpose.

This, indeed, is one which we want not to depreciate. If this manner of keeping the day be likely to persuade the juniors of the party that the celebrated Jack Horner is the prime model for brave boys, and that grand parents are chiefly to be respected as the givers of grand feasts, yet a meeting in the spirit of kindness, however dull and blind, is not wholly without use in healing differences and promoting good intentions. The instinct of family love, intended by Heaven to make those of one blood the various and harmonious organs of one mind, is never wholly without good influence. Family love, I say,

-8-

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