If you think about it, isn’t gratitude a choice? If I give you a cookie, you have two choices. You could say, “wow, I really appreciate that, thank you so much.” Or you could respond with “give me that, I deserve it.”
We develop gratitude as children. Our spiritual education, DNA, and society all contribute to our attitude of gratitude. But I truly believe that a heart of gratitude comes from a heart of love.
Hands in the air—three weeks ago, how many of us saw the Halloween decorations flying off the shelves, only to be replaced by Christmas merchandise in stores? It’s like they forgot Thanksgiving, right? What are you doing this year for Thanksgiving?
As children, we learned about the first meal shared at Plymouth Colony where Pilgrims invited Wampanoag Indians to join hands and hearts and gave thanks for the “autumn harvest.” That was in 1621, a three-day festival, per history books. The holiday continues now, but what are you truly thankful for, at this very moment? Food, football, friends, and fun? Perhaps. Is that enough?
Giving thanks and being thankful—that’s what our special day is dedicated to each year. I’m especially thankful for my family, those present and those gone before me, for infusing a spirit of gratitude for every gift of love and time shared with people I love in my life. I appreciate the completion of our new building and new parking lot that our family now offers to the community. I’m grateful to all our staff inside our building, who make what we do here a true family team effort.
The best gift of all to give this holiday season is–your time. It’s priceless, cherished, and irreplaceable. For many, this will be their first Thanksgiving holiday without a loved one in their lives. Who do you know who’d like to be included at your table but might be too shy to say, or tell you they’re alone, without plans? Consider giving them your time and love this year.
Thanksgiving as a national holiday has a storied history. In 1789 George Washington introduced the event as a national holiday. It was not until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln set the final Thursday in November. Fast forward to 1989 President George H.W. Bush, when granted the first official pardon to a turkey, a tradition that continues today, including this year.
Humorously, it’s time for us to grant a few turkeys we know a pardon or two as well, right? It is a spirit of thankfulness by which we can find reasons to change our hearts and minds to look at people who may have not impacted us the way we would have hoped and to consider that we might be at fault ourselves. When we look at others as we want to be seen, then there’s a softness in our hearts that can overcome us, no doubt encouraged by infinite commercials of “home for the holidays.”
On television, we’re seeing commercials that pit “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” against the stores that feature “We are allowing our families to be with their loved ones at Thanksgiving this year and so we’ll be closed on Thanksgiving,” taking a stand. Does your family do the campout in front of stores to be first in line, or are you going online to do your shopping at your leisure? The approach to “Black Friday” is often a family tradition, too.
Giving thanks in the United States and Canada is celebrated as a meal, enjoyed together, or bringing covered dishes to another family home, but really, isn’t it celebrated first in our hearts?
Let’s all stop and take a deep breath right now—freeze time for just three minutes. What are you thankful for right now? Is it your ability to be enjoying coffee and read your paper before you leave the house for a job you love? Is it because you have time to enjoy the people in your life, that you are thankful for? Have you retired from a lifetime job and now can do whatever you want every day?
Holiday times are also some of the most challenging for many of us. Are you grieving the loss of one of your closest loved ones and wondering how you will endure Thanksgiving this year? Or, have you determined to be a part of a gathering of people who volunteer to serve or deliver Thanksgiving meals to those whose eyes will light up with joy when they see your smiling face?
Thanksgiving is often a make-or-break holiday for people on a journey of recovering from grief. “It’s our first Thanksgiving without” is a sentence many of us must say to explain an empty chair at a table this year. Ours is a phone number that will be receiving calls over this holiday weekend, but that is what we are here for.
No matter what you need, we are here when you need us. Every day, not just this day or this week, we are thankful that you place your trust and confidence in our family to be there for your family. We journey together on the path toward remembering, cherishing, healing and sharing time with those who need us. From our family to yours, we keep you in our thoughts, prayers, and hearts and we are thankful for each of you. May blessings be yours this Thanksgiving.