Jessica Helfand | Essays

Thanksgiving Day

In a small church somewhere in the southern Pyrénées stands a wall covered in fragments of marble and ceramic tile. Declaring gratitude for any of a number of invisible reasons—personal, spiritual—the simple repetition of a single word forms a beguiling tapestry of human anonymity. Who were these people who chose to crystallize their appreciation this way, through words representing any number of thoughts and events and deeds now long gone? Here, merci becomes at once a gesture of appreciation and an architectural statement. The letterforms, some shiny and others starting to decompose, coalesce as a single form—a mesmerizing typographic benediction.

Here in America on this day of ritualized thanks, we are reminded that saying Thank You is a meaningful, yet all-too-often overlooked part of everyday life. And so we say merci to all our readers whose contributions we recognize with sincere gratitude. We are nothing without you.

We've gathered a few food and thankfulness related posts from our archive. Happy Reading!

It's too late to start George Lois' Thanksgiving stuffing recipe (it takes two days), but it's a fine time to read the story of the recipe and how it saved his marriage.

An essay by Nicola Waldron, about the cycles of life and land.

Artist and farmer Matthew Moore describes his Digital Farm Collective, a multimedia project created to spur dialogue about the future of the family farm.

Way back in 2009 Alexandra Lange hosted her first Thanksgiving in her then newly finished home. While she hasn't updated us, we assume it went well.

Timothy Beatley describes a new tradition in the planning department at the University of Virginia: the 100-Mile Thanksgiving, for which students prepare the annual feast, trying to use food produced within 100 miles of the Charlottesville campus.

Comments [10]

In that case I'll say thanks again and apologise this time for calling you William in your Science and Design post!

Type in haste, repent at leisure...
John Coulthart

Thanks to all of the Design Observer writers and staff for their hard work on one of the only sites I must visit daily.

I am thankful for the daily feasts you put forth. may they continue to be abundant.

very grateful for so much consistently intelligent and enjoyable writing on design. keep it up!
simple simon

Carl W. Smith

There in America, because of political correctness, people cannot write, that all these "merci's" are for God.

I thought that Thanksgiving is also about that. Otherwise I think the name should be "Thank You Day".



Joe Moran


(Editor's Note: Thanks. Spelling correction made.)
Geography Guy

Thank you Jessica, Michael, William, Rick, Steven, and all the other contributors for all your hard work on DO. You are greatly appreciated.
Jude Landry

Sometimes the downside of atheism (aside from having to give up the idea that one will live forever in some "better place") is a loss of the idea of gratitude. One can be grateful to others for immediate favors, but what about a beautiful sunset? So, taking my cue from a woman writer whom I heard interviewed a few years ago (alas, I've forgotten who it was), I simply say the words "thank you" when I see, taste, or hear something wonderful. Of course, I'm not thanking some supreme being, but the act of saying those words stops me for a few seconds and causes me to appreciate the moment.
owen edwards

Jobs | June 19