Threads of Gratitude and Patriotism

Community Thanksgiving celebration at a school in Washington, D.C., in 1916. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress) A history of how Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving illuminates the ideals at the holiday’s core.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE P laying Tripoli, making cranberry sauce, and creating splendid table centerpieces — these are popular Thanksgiving rituals in the Schutte home. But even just one house over, Thanksgiving Day might involve an entirely different set of rituals, all equally cherished and enjoyed each November. These differences and the core idea behind them are the topic of Melanie Kirkpatrick’s 2016 book, Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience, now republished as a paperback in time for the holiday’s 400th anniversary.

Kirkpatrick sets the stage by focusing first on modern immigrants’ views of Thanksgiving, then brings readers back to that very …

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