Being Thankful
tom walsh


This is the week of one of my favorite holidays of all:  Thanksgiving.  I think it's wonderful that our country has put aside a day devoted to gratitude, to being thankful for all that we have and all that we are.  And I love how people respond to the day, following long-standing traditions and cooking a huge meal to share with family members.  It seems that the whole day is spent doing things that are traditional to families, from cooking special dishes to playing catch outside to watching the football games on television to playing around outside with the little ones.  Family members who haven't seen each other since Christmas get together and catch up on each other's lives.

At the heart of the day, of course, is thankfulness, one of the great keys to living a full life.  Thankfulness is one of our greatest allies if we want to live fully, as a gracious person is a person who takes nothing for granted.  Everything that we have in our lives is worthy of our thanks, from the material things that make our lives easier (sometimes) to the people who help us and encourage us and challenge us and our patience and understanding.  The buildings in which we're warm on cold days and dry on the wet ones, the cars that get us to where we're going, the possibilities for change and growth and learning--we can be thankful for it all.  Problems arise in our lives when we lose our focus on thankfulness and start taking things for granted, not stopping to appreciate, if even for a second or two, the wonderful blessing that something is to us.

There are people who find Thanksgiving day to be challenging and difficult.  They're dealing with awful memories associated with the day or with the feeling that they personally don't have much to be thankful for.

For the first group, I send out my hopes that one day they'll be able to overcome those memories and move on.  For the second, I send out my hopes that they can shift their perspective and see clearly all that they have to be thankful for.  We all have different lives, and one person's little is another person's abundance, and until we learn to accept where we are and be thankful for all that's positive and right in our lives, then the negatives will continue to rule us and our emotions.  I've never been wealthy, but there's also nothing necessary to my life that I've had to do without.  Even during times of great want--financial and emotional--I've always been able to see that there have been many positives in my situation.  For that ability I'm extremely grateful, for I'm sure that at times it's been all that's kept me going.

And even if there are people who have a hard time dealing with the day, that doesn't mean that my day should be diminished.  I still have much to be thankful for, and I have people I want to share the day with.  I want to spend the day focusing on our blessings, keeping in mind the fact that there are people out there who need to be helped to see the beauty of and need for gratitude.  If I keep a thankful heart, I can pass that feeling on to others, and I can help them to see all that they have to be thankful for.  And isn't helping others what it's all about?

The day is a marvelous day.  And to me it's absolutely no surprise that the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year--the day reminds us of all that we have to be grateful for, and as human beings our normal response to such a reminder is to try to respond to those feelings of gratitude.  May Thanksgiving be strong in your minds and hearts this year, and may that feeling stay with you each day of the coming year!


Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion.  Hope without
thankfulness is lacking in fine perception.  Faith without thankfulness
lacks strength and fortitude.  Every virtue divorced from thankfulness
is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.

John Henry Jowett


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