Once every year, American families get together for an extravagant meal in the company of their loved ones. Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude for all the wonderful things and people one has in his/her life. And there’s nothing quite like a few good Thanksgiving Quotes to give you the jumpstart on the spirit of the day.
We will be looking at inspirational Thanksgiving quotes from authors and poets to TV personalities and Presidents. A lot of the message revolves around gratitude, and rightfully so as that is what this day is mostly about.
We will now be looking at 20 different Thanksgiving quotes, each followed by a brief explanation and context.
“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” – William Blake
The quote above signifies William Blake’s belief that a person who is grateful for whatever he or she has is bound to have plenty of good things come their way. This is a quote worth reflecting on and implementing on the day of Thanksgiving.
William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was a celebrated English poet and painter who ironically went unnoticed during his lifetime. Today he is regarded as one of the most influential poets and painters of his era. The above quote is taken from his 1793 book “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.”
“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” – Charles Dickens
In this quote, Charles Dickens wants to emphasize on an error most of us make when going through our lives. Most of us worry too much about our past failures while completely forgetting to acknowledge all the great things that we have going on for ourselves at the present moment. This is a miserable way to live. Acknowledging your present blessings is the essence of Thanksgiving.
Charles Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was a famous English author known for such works as “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Oliver Twist,” “Great Expectations” and “A Christmas Carol.”
“I love Thanksgiving because it is a holiday centered around food and family, two things that are of utmost importance to me.” – Marcus Samuelsson
This light-hearted quote from Marcus Samuelsson acknowledges two of the most important aspects of Thanksgiving. This is a holiday everyone needs to celebrate around their loved ones, with plenty of food on the table.
Marcus Samuelsson (born January 1971) is a famous Ethiopian-Swedish chef. He is currently the head chef of Red Rooster in Harlem, New York. It is no surprise that Samuelsson considers food to be one of the most important things in his life.
“Christians were instructed to serve others, and the thanksgiving was for the grace of God and the fact that God offered a way for man to return to a positive relationship with Him.” – John Clayton
In this quote, John Clayton explains the essence of Thanksgiving, where the Christian tenet of serving each other can be an effective way for a man (or woman) to return to a positive relationship with God. A community where people serve one another do, after all, live in a state of harmony, which could be interpreted as this “positive relationship” with God.
“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.” – Theodore Roosevelt
In this quote, Theodore Roosevelt explains that one cannot expect to receive so much grace from others without giving back themselves. Furthermore, he says that the true essence of giving back is a combination of both action and some complimentary words to go along with it. This is a beautiful thought to have in your mind on any Thanksgiving when you are celebrating with your loved ones.
Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), affectionately referred to as Teddy Roosevelt, was the 26th president of the United States. An outspoken statesman and naturalist, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest American presidents.
“Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.” – E.P. Powell
In this quote, E.P. Powell says that Thanksgiving is a day that any honest man or woman will cherish. However, he warns against celebrating the day without gratitude for what and who one has in one’s life. This gratitude is, after all, the essence of Thanksgiving. This is a wonderful thought to have in your mind this Thanksgiving.
Edward Payson Powell (1833-1915) was a famous American author and journalist.
“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” — John F. Kennedy
In yet another quote about gratitude, John F. Kennedy gives one of the most concise interpretations of what Thanksgiving is about. He says we much all pause our insatiable drives now and then to be grateful for all the loved ones in our life but to let them know how much they mean to us—a great way to spend one’s Thanksgiving.
John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963) was the 35th President of the United States. Until his assassination in November 1963, he was an extremely popular president, both in his policies and personality.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
In this quotation, Oprah emphasizes the power of gratitude. She says focusing on what one has in their life will result in more good things. Conversely, if one chooses to focus too much on what they don’t have in life, they will never have enough—a great quote for the day of Thanksgiving.
Oprah Winfrey (born January 29, 1954) is one of the most famous and revered Television personalities of our time. She is also revered for her philanthropist endeavors and is popularly referred to as the “Queen of All Media.” She is worth $2.7 billion.
“Thanksgiving is more than “one dinner.” Thanksgiving is a time for celebrating everything you love.” – Robin Kite
In the quote above, Robin Kite emphasizes that Thanksgiving is more than just about the food; it has more to do with expressing gratitude for everything and everyone one has in his/her life.
The quote above is taken from the book “Thanksgiving Decoded: History, Traditions & Activities For Your Little Turkeys,” authored by Robin Kite and illustrated by Alex McVey.
“There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.” – O. Henry
In this quote, O. Henry calls Thanksgiving a true American holiday. He explains that this is the one day of the year when all Americans who have maintained a good relationship with their family go back to their old homes, reminiscing on all the wonderful memories from their younger years and getting a wider perspective on life.
The “saleratus biscuits” and the “old pump by the porch” are meant to incite nostalgia feelings. The above quote is taken from O. Henry’s short story, “Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen.”
William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910), known by his pen name O. Henry, was a celebrated American short story writer. His lasting legacy includes the reputed “O. Henry Award” awarded to outstanding short stories every year.
“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.” – William Jennings Bryan
This short and beautiful quote by Willian Jennings Bryan shares an alternative way of looking at the essence of Thanksgiving. Instead of looking at the things and people in your life that are good to you, focus on all the things that you are dependent on.
The latter approach is more intuitive than the former as it is easier to be aware of the things that we very much depend on for our survival. Once this dependence has been acknowledged, it gets easier to be grateful for them.
Willian Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was a famous American politician who served as the Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson. Bryan was widely revered for his wisdom and his understanding of the common people. As such, he was often referred to as the “Great Commoner.”
“Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts, and off’rings, and a thankful strain.”
– Alexander Pope
In a rather quaint manner, these four lines by Alexander Pope explain the origin and essence of Thanksgiving. This quote is an excerpt from one of Pope’s poems from the collection “Imitations of Horace.”
Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) was a celebrated English poet. Such is his popularity that, according to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Pope is the second most quoted writer of the English language, after Shakespeare.
“If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.” – Gerald Good
This quote by Gerald Good is a simple yet profoundly inspirational treatise to gratitude. It explains that one of the simplest and the most effective ways to change one’s life for the better is to embrace gratitude and be thankful for all the good things in one’s life. A sentiment that goes rather well with the spirit of Thanksgiving.
“Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.” – J. Robert Moskin
This beautiful and deep quote by J. Robert Moskin touches on the very essence of life. It explains how Thanksgiving is more than just another American holiday. According to Moskin, the essence of this celebration is relatable to people of all ages and faiths. Gratitude is as universal in the human experience as one’s desire for a new beginning.
J. Robert Moskin (born May 9, 1923) is an award-winning American journalist and historian.
“What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?” – Erma Bombeck
This light-hearted quote comes from revered humorist Erma Bombeck. There’s something rather quaint and attractive about Bombeck’s description and anticipation of the Thanksgiving dinner. And like with any humor, there is a truth in the sentiment that we can all relate to.
Erma Bombeck (née Fiste; February 21, 1927 – April 22, 1996) was a celebrated American humorist famous for her humorous commentary on the suburban American life of the 60s through the 90s. It is estimated that as many as 30 million people read her work semi-weekly by the 1970s.
“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because it reminds us to give thanks and to count our blessings. Suddenly, so many things become so little when we realize how blessed and lucky we are.” – Joyce Giraud
This wonderful quote by actress/model Joyce Giraud describes a non-American’s perception and appreciation of Thanksgiving. She explains how embracing gratitude for just one day can make all of our problems seem minuscule and lead us to realize how lucky and blessed we are with all the things in our lives.
Joyce Giraud (born April 4, 1975) is a Puerto Rican model, and actress famous for her role in the hit TV show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
“Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving.” – Amy Grant
This simple quote from Amy Grant describes how one ought to make the most of Thanksgiving Day. She says that it is a good day to start focusing our energies on gratitude and on giving or sharing.
Amy Grant (born November 25, 1960) is an American singer/songwriter and musician known for her Christian music. She is often referred to as the “Queen of Christian Pop.”
“So often, we stop to give thanks only when something exceptionally good has happened, on holidays, or during other celebrations. Giving thanks seasonally is a wonderful thing to do, but what you really want is to be grateful every day.” – Daniella Whyte
This wonderful quote by Daniella Whyte describes how Thanksgiving is a day that we seasonally put aside to express gratitude and experience its true power. Whyte goes on to add that if properly practiced, this day could lead one into realizing that what one truly needs in life to be happy is to experience the positivity that comes with gratitude all year round.
The above quote is taken from Daniella Whyte’s famous book “Thanks and Yes: 365 Days of Coffee Drinking and Grateful Living.”
“Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness and gratitude.” – Nigel Hamilton
In this beautiful and concise quote, Nigel Hamilton summarizes Thanksgiving’s true essence into two sentiments: togetherness and gratitude.
Nigel Hamilton (born 16 February 1944) is a celebrated British-American biographer, academic and broadcaster. He is famous for his award-winning biographies on famous personalities such as John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Thomas Mann, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, etc. Hamilton currently works as a Senior Fellow at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies of the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” – Henry David Thoreau
The final quote featured on our list is by Henry David Thoreau. It is a simple line that teaches us how to extend the wisdom and positivity of Thanksgiving Day, beyond the fourth Tuesday of November, across the rest of the year. Thoreau teaches us that a habit of practicing gratitude for what one has in life is a great way to extend the positive spirit of Thanksgiving
Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was a famous American essayist and philosopher. His 1849 essay called “Resistance to Civil Government” went on to influence the abolition of slavery as well as a range of revered personalities like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
From 1845 to 1847, Thoreau famously spent his time in solitude, living in a cabin by Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, an experience that he wrote about in his famous 1954 book “Walden; or, Life in the Woods.”
We hope these quotes helped you get a jump start on the spirit of Thanksgiving. This is truly a festival, unlike any other. It is not just a celebration of food and the people in our lives. In essence, it is the celebration of life itself.