Among the myriad Thanksgiving-themed reads out there today, the best comes from Lori Borgman at OnTheCulture.com: "Thanksgiving is Spelled C-H-A-R-A-C-T-E-R." She reflects on the oft-maligned Pilgrims, and the spirit of gratefulness and courage that they exhibited when trying to settle in America. Here's an excerpt, but it's worth reading the whole thing, and considering that "Thanksgiving is a habit of the heart."
The Puritans, despite pummeling by untrue stereotypes, were a most remarkable group of people. The fortitude and resilience they displayed were heroic. They knew hardship both in the old world and in the new. The Pilgrim-Puritan legacy is not really that long wooden table loaded with wild game and playing field games with the Indians. Their true legacy is character. They sustained faithfulness and thankfulness under dire circumstances. Despite what should have been crushing deprivation, they persevered and remained clear-headed visionaries. Puritan John Geree wrote that the Puritan motto was “Vincit qui patitur.” That is Latin for “He who suffers conquers.”
The Puritans embraced all of life as a test of their faithfulness. (Many do the same today, but flip the equation and test God’s faithfulness, not man’s.) The Puritans were thankful for the material gifts of the harvest and shelter, but they also knew that what was in abundant supply one season could be gone the next. More importantly, they were thankful to, and for, the Giver of the gifts.