The advent of Thanksgiving is upon us here in the United States, and it got me thinking about the meaning of this time of year. I might be wrong about this but my observation has been that unless one is in elementary school and having a timely history lesson, the essence of this celebration has been all but lost to culinary over indulgence, football and consumer craziness.
Thanksgiving has come to remind me of Valentine’s Day and a lesson I learned from my son, Daniel, a long time ago. Dan was sort of a model kid, never gave us much trouble as boys go. But one Valentine’s Day, when he was 13, he ditched school. He and a couple of friends simply walked off campus, went down to the Fry’s Food store, hung out all day, ate hot dogs, drank Coke and then came home. Well, of course, we got a call from the school about his absence and, frankly, I was shocked.
Dan, I said, what in the world were you thinking, skipping school?
He replied, Mom, I just couldn’t stay there watching all the popular kids get balloons and stuff. It made all the other kids who don’t get any attention feel worse than they do everyday. I didn’t want any part of that. Besides, it’s stupid to have only one day a year when you make people feel special or tell them you love them. We should be doing that every day.
I couldn’t argue with him. It’s a sham celebration when you look at it from that perspective.
And Thanksgiving has come to feel the same way for me. On examination, maybe it is that way for you, too. But, we have the power to shift our awareness and our actions to recapture the essence of this celebration with what I am calling Thanks and Giving:
Thanks ~ Taking time to reflect on things you are grateful for in your life is a powerful tool. It brings you into the present moment and greater awareness of the good in your days. And, it can help you shift from a negative mindset to a positive one. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, you give your attention to all that is right. This can be both humbling and inspiring. Two things we could all use a bit more of, right?
Giving ~ Gratefulness for our personal abundance is a perfect segue to giving. Cultivating awareness is the key. Look for the moments to share yourself and your time: a complement to the grocery clerk; a phone call to lonely friend; a smile toward a frowning face; a hot meal for an elderly neighbor; a warm jacket for a homeless person … you know where your care is needed. You simply have to choose to be aware and take that tiny bit of time to do it.
Which brings me back to the Valentine’s Day story and my son Daniel’s wise words. Thanksgiving should not be about personal over indulgence or about one day of the year, but rather an ongoing mindset of thanks and giving. The simple instructions I’ve offered above can be implemented every single day of our lives without much effort and result in such great reward.
Oh, what a difference we can make in the world. What a difference we can feel within.
With thanks and giving in my heart, Plynn