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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving – Being Thankful Today and Everyday

First appeared on Blogcritics.

t 1Sandwiched between the celebrations of Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving sometimes is forgotten. In the scheme of the “Hallo-mas” or “Chris-ween” mega-holiday, Thanksgiving can seem to be neglected. It certainly is in retail in terms of decorations. Try to find light-up Thanksgiving items for your window. Indiana Jones had an easier time finding The Holy Grail.

Yet watching the parade in New York City this morning on TV, I was pleasantly surprised by throngs of spectators lining the canyons of the old city. The turnout has nothing to do with Black Friday sales or any of the Christmas shopping hype. It becomes clear that Thanksgiving is more popular than anyone in retail or the media can fathom because, above all things, it is the people’s holiday and one that they enjoy in full vigor.

The reason is simple – Thanksgiving is an equal opportunity holiday for all Americans. Speaking to people from all backgrounds this past week, I realized that every one of them was ready to celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November. No matter what their countries of origin are or their faiths, they bring their own customs into the mix, meaning tasty food of all types being cooked, fried, and baked for the occasion.

t 2Perhaps it is the fact that religion does not have to be involved as you celebrate this day that accounts for its popularity. We can say the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims and Native Americans was a day when the settlers prayed to God and thanked Him for the harvest that their new friends helped them gather. People of different faiths will thank their gods in whatever way they do, but atheists and agnostics can embrace the holiday as well. We don’t have to thank a deity on this day, but we can always thank the people who come into our lives and make each day a little better.

The concept of being thankful is a powerful one. Thanking someone is on the surface fairly simple, but the notion of gratitude is one that can warm the other person’s heart even on the coldest day. The nature of being thankful is humility, which signals to other people that you know you cannot go it alone. As the old Three Dog Night song goes, “One is the loneliest number,” so if you are gathering with one or one hundred people today, you definitely have something for which to be grateful.

Being thankful should not be reserved for one day a year; it is a practice to be utilized year round. We should be thanking people all the time – thank your barista, your mail carrier, the person pumping your gas, the guy mopping the department store floor, the crossing guard getting your children to school safely, the cashier in the fast-food restaurant, and the list goes on and on. If you are thankful to every person you encounter each day, you will put a smile on his or her face, and smiling is the currency of good will. While it may seem inconsequential to some, thankfulness actually dispenses joy and that is a reward in and of itself.

t 3Enjoy Thanksgiving for the notion that it is a day devoted to family, friends, good food, and football. At your gatherings, be sure to thank everyone at the table, and there will be smiles shared before the turkey and fixings are devoured. And starting tomorrow, go out and be thankful to everyone you meet on that day and every day! People of the world unite and give thanks; we have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

  Photo credit: clipartbest.com, thejoyfulheart.com, huffingtonpost.com 

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