In a proudly pluralistic country, Thanksgiving is the one national celebration that knits together the races, religions, regions, and raging appetites in one warm caloric embrace. And it is a distinctly New England holiday, from its origins in Plymouth to the jewel-red cranberries from local bogs. Mellow and glowing against a slate-coloured November afternoon, it may be the nation’s most beloved holiday. Let us consider why.

No gifts. No Thanksgiving host expects any tribute. The bird. Turkey is a highly forgiving bird even for the amateur cook. Familiar fixin’s. Sure, there are disputes over the meal: to baste or broast or brine; stuffing in the bird or out; chestnuts or cornbread; sweet potatoes plain or with marshmallows; pumpkin or apple or mince. Thursday. Since Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving in 1863 it has resisted being remade into one of those phony Monday holidays, thus increasing the chances of a four-day weekend. Non denominational.

The traditional blessing before the meal never feels forced or sectarian. The Thanksgiving “orphan.” This delightful tradition invites students, singles, or others who find themselves away from home to join the feast, defusing complex family dynamics and deepening the meaning of a day when everyone can share in the blessings of abundance.