From the December 5, 1874 issue of the Saturday Evening Post:
“When the summer is past, and the beauty and bloom of the harvest garnered, while with full hands and warm hearts the year draw near its close, it is meet that we return thanks to the Giver of all good gifts for the rich largess of His seasons, that we settle our balance due of gratitude, and with a clear page open the reckoning of the year to come.
It must be admitted that but little of the spirit in which this anniversary was originally framed remains at the present day, and that Thanksgiving Day has somehow gained a special meaning as a day for family gatherings, and for being merry generally.
There’s a deep fund of vitality in the human breast, and the most solemn or most sorrowful observance cannot induce a major of the people to wear long face and penitential hearts. And who can blame them? We have all legitimate causes enough for depression without suffering ourselves to be legislated into the blues, while our hearts are merry and our horizons clear.
The right to laugh or cry is one of the reserved rights of the people, not delegated to Congress, but retained as a constituent of individual freedom.
So if we find indecorously joyful faces shaming the solemn occasion, we can console ourselves with the reflection that laughter is better than tears, and that the making of happy people is the crowning glory of a good government.
But now joy is our business. We celebrate the good that has come unto us. And God is best thanked for His gifts by clear brows and smiling faces. Then let us shout and be merry, eat our fill, and laugh to our heart’s content while east and west, north and south, the wail of the turkey is heard in the land.”