Saturday, November 16, 2019

Prompt #344 – Gratitude is the Heart’s Memory

Here in the U.S., Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Thursday, November 28th, which just happens to be my birthday this year. I can remember how excited I was as a child when the two special days coincided. These days, I think more about the things for which I’m thankful.

Thanksgiving has a long history beginning in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is considered the first Thanksgiving celebration. That feast lasted three days and, according to attendee Edward Winslow, it was 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims participated. For over 200 years, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. In 1827, magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale began a campaign to establish thanksgiving as a national holiday. Finally, in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln set the last Thursday in November as the official day for a national Thanksgiving observance. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week, and in 1941 Roosevelt signed a bill that designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

In Canada, Thanksgiving (sometimes called Canadian Thanksgiving to distinguish it from the American holiday) is an annual Canadian holiday that occurs on the second Monday in October to celebrate the harvest and other blessings of the past year.

Other countries that celebrate Thanksgiving include Germany (a Harvest Thanksgiving Festival in early October), Grenada (on October 25th), Korea (in late September or early October), Japan on November 23rd), Liberia (on the first Thursday of November), and Norfolk Island located east of Australia (during the 1800s, an American trader brought the feasting tradition to Norfolk Island, and the custom has been continued).

Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Gratitude is a developmental emotion, and books have been written on the psychology of gratitude. There are times in our lives when we feel more Grinch than grateful, especially when the stresses of every day living gather momentum and all but overwhelm us. However, acknowledging and expressing our gratitude can have a beneficial effect on our lives, relationships, and work.

A French proverb tells us, “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.” Our first step in writing for this prompt will be to remember—to look into our memories and to identify a single thing for which we’re especially grateful.


Make a list of things for which you’re grateful.

Choose one item from the list.

Free write about the item you chose.

Review your free write and select images and details for your poem.

Draft your poem.

As you write, think about the reasons for your gratitude and show (without telling) what those feelings really mean.


“Thanks” by W. S. Merwin

“Thanksgiving Letter from Harry” by Carl Dennis

“The Thanksgivings” by Harriet Maxwell Converse

Poems for Thanksgiving at Poets.Org

Happy Thanksgiving!

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