Despite the murky origins of Thanksgiving, I woke up this morning thinking about what my favorite holiday is about for me… two things – connection and gratitude.
I don't know of any other holiday (in this country anyway) that so explicitly espouses the "attitude of gratitude" in the way this one does. There is no gift exchange ceremony or exchange of goods and services ("I'll show you my cool costume and you give me some candy"). It's not explicitly religious nor is it associated with politics or nationalism. It is simply a day of connecting with those we love to express our gratitude.
In this mostly consumerism-driven culture, this is a day to pause and reflect on what we have… for we have so much. I know that there are many in this country who don't have enough of even the basics. I know I speak from a position of privilege. And yet… I encourage every one of us to remember that we have people who love us (even when we feel all alone). We have freedoms that many will never experience (even when we feel trapped by our circumstances). We have choices (even when it seems we don't) in how we think, believe, speak, attitude and act.
In a world where rugged individualism can often morph into isolation, bitterness and resentment, I ask, how is that working for us? What is the cost of our attachment to independence? The truth is, none of us is an island – none of us lives separate from the rest of the world. We depend on each other for our very lives. So, I wonder… who are you grateful for? Who has helped you along your life's journey? Who could you connect with today and thank for "being there" for you? Who could you forgive? What if connection is the one thing we are most longing for? It's up to us to create it.
If you love this holiday as much as I do, I ask you this:
What if we made Thanksgiving Day every day? What if, in the spirit of this holiday, we approached every day with the awareness of gratitude we choose to muster up on this particular day every year? What if we woke asking ourselves, "What can I be grateful for today?" What if we sought out opportunities to express gratitude to everyone we meet, even for the seemingly tiniest things? What amount of joy and connection could we bring to our lives and the lives of others if we did that? What if, at the end of the day, we had a long list of all the things we were grateful for… and what if we did the day after that, and the day after that, until the day we die?
What would be possible if we lived in gratitude all the time (even if we didn't "feel" like it)?
Today, I am deeply grateful for all the blessings I have experienced thus far – the celebrations and hardships, the lessons, the connections of all kinds, the births and deaths, family and friends, this beautiful planet I get to live on, the blue sky, the myriad shades of green in a single square acre, crickets and kittens, flannel sheets and flowers, good food, passion, love and the spectrum of human feeling.
What are you grateful for?