Thursday, November 26, 2009



It is a characteristic of our American way of life that the more our country changes, the more Thanksgiving Day remains the same.

It has become more than just another holiday; it is a time of gratitude for the harvest; the changing seasons of the year; the opportunity of laboring in hopes of a generous reward; and the choice privilege of worshiping God as our free will and choice dictate.

It is a day for recalling and enjoying the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast — New England flavor blended from golden-skinned turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and more impressively the echo of the Pilgrims' devout thanks for abundant blessings.

Most of us still retain in the preciousness of memory the picture of stove-piped-hatted Pilgrims, with a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other, going to church, accompanied by tall, staunch women in long, white-aproned gowns; Indians sitting as guests at the harvest feast; and all the traditional Thanksgiving Day scenes that have decorated the art galleries and the American Textbooks for more than three centuries.

And in our time, we still savor the old home kitchen with the biggest turkey on the farm browning in the oven, spice pies all over the place, bright shimmering jellies, cranberry jam, heaps of mashed potatoes in huge bowls that have been in the family for generations.

We are grateful for the rich harvest gathered opportunely on the eve of winter; for the lingering warmth of autumn; for the gorgeous snow-covered peaks; for the picturesque canyons and mountain streams; the moon and stars to brighten the night; the sunset over the lake; our beautiful homes in these choice valleys; the many family gatherings so fittingly observed on this memorable day and for the kindness of precious friends and neighbors.

Among all the good things of life we enjoy, we reserve our deepest gratitude for living in a country that unites to observe, with whole-hearted enthusiasm, such a warm and rewarding holiday as Thanksgiving Day. This is a day of giving thanks that our America is strong and free and thriving!

This is a family day also. Some chairs will be empty on this day for the loved ones of those who have gone away. This will be hard to bear for it will be a day of painful and sorrowful memories, rather than a day for rejoicing. In other homes however, there will be new chairs and new faces that were not there last year.

With all our wealth of blessings, how poor we are if we are more grateful for our material possessions than for the spiritual verities!

We are free men! How insignificant are all things else for which we give thanks on Thanksgiving Day! Yet, we cannot overlook the blessings of the bounteous harvest or the productivity of our mills and factories, or the profound knowledge of our scientists and the skills of our artisans — all of which we must use for the general benefit of mankind and the strengthening of the cause of liberty.

But not even on Thanksgiving Day can we turn our backs on the troubles of the world. We cannot be thankful for all the things we have to contend with these days. But our anxieties, our determination to stand firmly for what we believe to be right and to resist what is wrong; our willingness to sacrifice comforts and luxuries and spend our means to defend our convictions — these are ample reasons for giving thanks.

Truly, we honor not only the Pilgrims, but our founding fathers and our pioneer forebears as well, when we give this kind of observance to Thanksgiving Day.

— Les Goates

(Republished — Goates, Les. The Six Faces of Les Go. Deseret Book, 1965)

1 comment:

  1. I never tire from year to year of revisiting this timely, yet timeless, essay about Thanksgiving. My Grandfather, Les Goates, was an inspiring writer. I suppose my love of literature and writing stems from this man. I hope we never lose sight in America of the fundamental values and treasured history embodied in his words here. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!