Happy Thanks Giving Day!
Paganism could make things; it could make festivals and festive days; it could make an alternative to Christmas, if it were still alive. But the modern Pagans cannot. The modern Pagans are merely atheists; who worship nothing and therefore create nothing. They could not, for instance, even make a substitute for Thanksgiving Day. For half of them are pessimists who say they have nothing to be thankful for; and the other half are atheists who have nobody to thank.
[GKC's broadcast to the US, Dec 25 1931, reprinted in Chesterton Continued by John Sullivan]
The test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful, though I hardly knew to whom. Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs? We thank people for birthday presents of cigars and slippers. Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth?[GKC Orthodoxy CW1:258]
[shortly after asking this, GKC responds:]
...magic must have a meaning, and meaning must have some one to mean it. There was something personal in the world, as in a work of art; whatever it meant it meant violently. ... I thought this purpose beautiful in its old design, in spite of its defects, such as dragons. ...the proper form of thanks ... is some form of humility and restraint: we should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them. We owed, also, an obedience to whatever made us.
[GKC Orthodoxy CW1:258]
Maybe it is time for us to actually THINK about what Chesterton wrote, and not just read him, comment on him, criticise him - but begin to imitate him - for he truly enacts that very famous directive of St. Paul:
Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. [See Col 3:15]Or, as we say in every Holy Mass:
Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
Dignum et justum est.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right and just.