"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess 5:161-18). I know this painting above is most likely not historically accurate, but I've always loved it for what it says about the American tradition of Thanksgiving: giving thanks in the midst of hardships alongside those who have helped you. Yes, the actual history of the "Pilgrims" (even that phrase is controverted) and Native Americans (another controverted phrase: many scholars today actually prefer "Indians) is quite different from what many of us learned in grammar school (check out the book "Mayflower," by Nathaniel Philbrick, for more on that). But this symbol, this image, of thanksgiving as something at the root of American culture is quite salutary. It is, I think, the last of the holidays to cling fiercely to its original meaning: giving thanks. On a spiritual level, gratitude grounds the believer, which is why St. Ignatius Loyola began the Examination of Conscience with it: "The first Point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits received."
On behalf of the editors and staff at America, we wish all of our readers, our viewers, our colleagues and our friends a blessed Thanksgiving, and one in which you have the opportunity to be grateful to the Lord for any of the blessings he has bestowed on you, your family, and friends. For those of you who are struggling, or poor, or lonely, or ill, or who find it hard to see blessings in your life, we pray that somehow you might experience a sense of God's presence with you today.