Book on table with dried fruit and bread
American Lit,  Short Stories

Thanksgiving Literature: Two Thanksgiving Gentlemen

Following last Thursday’s Thanksgiving and in celebration of Giving Tuesday, I originally wanted to create a list of “Thanksgiving literature” to share. 

But, honestly, what is Thanksgiving-themed literature? There just isn’t as much as there is for Halloween. All I could think of would be to share some literature written about Native Americans or the early settlers. However, I find it a bit of a drag reviewing books I haven’t even had time to read myself. With my recent move back to KL just a month ago, changing apartments, settling in, starting a new research position, I just didn’t really have time to go out and find a bunch of Thanksgiving-themed literature. (Next year!)

The only Thanksgiving story I could think of that I have read recently is one of O. Henry’s. 

Remember O. Henry? They most definitely made you read him in middle school. He’s famous for his short stories and being a master of irony. His most notorious story? The Gift of the Magi. 

Well, O. Henry has a Thanksgiving version of his famous story—Two Thanksgiving Gentlemen. 

To a tee, it follows the same structure: It takes place during a holiday, two people try to do something nice for each other, and, ironically, these good gestures turn out not so nice after all. 

Summary

Instead of a husband and wife, the main characters are an elderly gentleman and a homeless man in New York City. Apparently, the two have a deal: they always meet at Grand Central Station every year at the same time on Thanksgiving Day. The elderly gentleman takes the homeless man to enjoy a grand meal. It’s an annual tradition amongst strangers-cum-friends. [Albiet, an odd friendship limited to one day a year].

Grand Central Station
Photo by Anton on Unsplash

But this year, by chance, the homeless man has already been force-fed a grand meal by another do-gooder earlier that day. He arrives completely stuffed but too afraid to say anything, not wanting to hurt the kind gentleman who loves taking him out each year. 

I won’t give anyway any spoilers, but it’s a fun quick read if you are still in a Thanksgiving mood. 

However, on a final note, one of the things I dislike about O. Henry’s ironic works is that they punish people for doing nice things for each other. This is a terrible message! Don’t let him dissuade you! Go do something kind. 

I don’t believe that “no good deed goes unpunished.” So read some O. Henry, but don’t let him be a downer this holiday season!

(Sorry for the lateness of this post. I originally wanted to post it before Thanksgiving but I was so busy last week cooking my own grand meal to force-feed my friends in Malaysia. I literally started cooking last Tuesday and barely stopped until we started eating Thursday night at 8 pm. Hopefully, I’ll have time to write about our dinner on my other blog).

If anyone has any Thanksgiving literature they’d like to share, I will do a better job sharing ideas next year!

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