What are you Thankful for?

How strange to imagine that we only devote one day to gratitude. In a country where we relish abundance and excess, shouldn’t we have countless things to be thankful for? Or perhaps like the land we stole and the native people we slaughtered on the first Thanksgiving, our consumer culture has robbed and killed our soulful gratitude. Perhaps the stuff we purchase has blackened more than just our Fridays? With our bellies filled, our refrigerators exceeding capacity, and many wallets lightened beyond budget, perhaps it’s time to reconsider what matters most.

What are you thank for for?

Thanksgiving Day has always been my favorite holiday. A day spent eating and drinking with family and friends, what’s not to like? Examining the day more closely however, it is not the turkey and dressing nor the bourbon and wine that makes the day special. It is the people and opportunity to put time and consumerism aside to savor the moment. Nothing about Thanksgiving Day is special or unique, yet the communal meal allows families to be united and friendship to be cultivated. This could be replicated any day of the week, any month of the year, with or without an over-stuffed bird. To savor gratitude, we don’t need to brine our attitude for long hours, rather we simply need to serve each moment as it arrives.

Each one of us are byproducts of countless other people and circumstances. From the moment we were birthed into being, we were fed, nourished, bathed, and swaddled. For at least 18 years, we were educated, inspired, heard, challenge, and mentored by coaches and teachers who pushed us beyond our own imaginations. Everyday we are supported by a network of nameless faces who power our electrical plants, cultivate our food supplies, monitor our safety, and manufacture our infrastructure. We are, who we are, because of those people in our lives.

Who are you thankful for? 

However independent we wish to be, our lives are not lived in quiet desperation. Even if you venture to a pond in the woods, our lives are still breathed into existence by the nature that surrounds, oxygenates, energizes, and colors our world. We are never wholly alone.

What are you thankful for?

For me, it was time spent with my mom drinking mimosas until a late Thanksgiving meal and laughing through the wee hours of the night. It was a night-in with friends, playing games, watching football, and spilling over (literally) with laughter. It was drinking coffee with former students, now turned friends, and hearing about the adults they have become. It was a walk through the Highlands and Cherokee Park, listening to cars passing and birds chirping.

What are you thankful for?

What inspires you with gratitude?

To borrow from the inspiration of Fred Rogers, each one of us, have had people who have helped us along the way. From the time we were very little, we have had people who have smiled us into smiling, talked us into talking, sung us into singing, loved us into loving. 1

Think about someone who has helped you along the way.

Each one of us are here because of the people in our life who have shaped us to be who we are today. Some may be near. Some may be far away. Some may even be in heaven.

No matter where they are alive or dead, deep down you know that they have always wanted what is best for you. They have always cared for you beyond measure. They have always encouraged you to be true to the best within you. Deep down you know that they love you and have helped you get to where you are right now.

Wherever they are, if they’ve loved you, and encouraged you, and wanted what was best in life for you, they’re right inside your self.

Who are you thankful for?

Now that Thanksgiving is days behind us, and the gift of Christmas around the corner, it is important to switch our thinking to that sense of gratitude that blossomed on Thanksgiving Day and nourish it through the Advent and Christmas seasons.

What are those moments in your life that has surprised you with joy? When has the sun brightened your day? When has a walk in the park refreshed your spirit? When has a flower colored your horizon?

Who are those people you look forward to sharing coffee with? Drinking mimosas with? Playing games with? Eating with? Celebrating with?

Who are the people who have loved you into loving? Laughed you into laughing? Thanked you into thanking?

Today, and each day forward, how can you remind yourself: 

What are you thankful for?

  1. During his life, Fred Rogers gave numerous speeches that devoted some amount of time to meditating on the lives of those people who have impacted and shaped the lives of those listening to his speech. To listen to just one of his many speeches, I would suggest his 2002 Commencement Address at Dartmouth College. For the meditation, begin at the 10 minute marker. 

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