Here it comes again. Another thanksgiving day is on the horizon. In Canada, we observe the day on Monday, October 12. The United States will observe Thanksgiving on November 26.
The question is, in light of COVID-19 and all that we have been through and are still going through, what the heck is there to be thankful for?
Thankful In All Things
We ask, “What are you thankful for?” each year as families gather around the special dinner table.
This is a customary Thanksgiving question. However, Thanksgiving 2020 might be different. On a personal level, it will be not as I hoped or imagined that it would be. Frankly, it will be a great challenge to find my smile. Certainly, I will but it will be hard.
So, for myself and for this piece, I went back 13 years to one written to remind myself and share some thoughts with you about how to be thankful in all things.
Caught up as we are in the various dramas of life whether political or personal, thankfulness is often the last thought on our minds. Please pause and reflect on something, an incident or meeting, that reminds you to be thankful in all things. Do share in the comments section below this post.
Here Is My Recollection
We are often so busy complaining. We complain about the things that are either absent from or are in short supply in our lives. So much so that we miss the blessings that arrived in forms so simple. For example, an incident from May 2005 on the day of my daughter’s graduation ceremony and I was about to lose an eye crying. Why? I did not have the money to pay to have her make-up professionally done.
Twenty-four hours later, driving her and her friend to the banquet, I was reminded why the make-up did not matter. I was reminded that I was losing focus of what was really important.
A truck rear-ended us in a line of traffic. We required medical attention and my vehicle was damaged. However, knowing how stubborn I am, it seems Source was not taking any chances. As if to make sure that I understood that my focus was off, the following day the pager that I carried as an Intern Hospital Chaplain went off. It was a unit clerk calling to say that a family needed support as their loved one was making his transition.
Honestly, I baulked a bit, thinking, “How could I do this when still shaken myself from yesterday’s collision?” I was completely focussed on me and my perceived suffering. Questioning whether Source did not realise that I could not handle death right then, I thought to myself, “My daughter and her friend are in pain and discomfort, we needed a Chaplain ourselves.”
Asked And It Is Answered
Within seconds of the questions coming to my mind, I received my answer. These passages of holy texts came to me as well as a memory from 2001.
Give thanks in all circumstance.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“Be not like those who honor their gods in prosperity and curse them in adversity. In pleasure or pain, give thanks!” Meklita Exodus 20.20
My mother tried to instil in me a sense of gratitude. She always reminded me to say ‘thank you’ for every gift, deed or kind word someone gave or said to me, especially adults. “Manners,” she would say, “will take you through the world.”
Somewhere along the line though, things got all mixed up and saying ‘thank you’ became something to impress someone with my politeness. Worse yet, it was said without any true passion or true feeling of gratitude.
Oprah Winfrey was one of the first ‘new thought’ thinkers, who I heard espousing the virtues of gratitude and having a gratitude journal. Later, as the idea became something of a fad, I dismissed it, as a thing idle rich women would indulge in to feel good about themselves.
“Not for me,” I thought. “Not for people who are struggling to make it up the @#%& corporate ladder.” I tried it anyway. I wrote in a makeshift gratitude journal but quickly dispensed with it when after two weeks my miracle never came.
You Have To Be Thankful All The Time
A few years later, I again met up with my old friend Gratitude. This time around, we entered into an amazing relationship. Being grateful, I came to learn, does not need a doctorate, any special formula or even a journal. It does not require being an orthodox believer or even being a radical out-of-the-box thinker.
Being grateful is simply saying ‘thank you’ for all that comes into your life – challenges, joy, moments of happiness, food, a pet, the stranger who smiled at you, the astronomically high telephone bill – everything.
The secret of being grateful that opened to me was simple. The more I give thanks, really meaning it and in a spirit of true appreciation, is the more I receive. And I have received in ton loads ever since.
More importantly, by being intentionally grateful I feel more love in my life and I feel more capable of loving.
Here Is The Thing: Check Your Attitude
What do you hope to receive today? Conversely, what have you been grateful for today? Are you busy searching online or the party and club scenes for the perfect partner? But, have you been giving thanks that you have good friends and companions who love you?
Maybe you are as I was back then:
- caught up in the comparison game, wondering about where you are vs the neighbours, siblings, co-workers?
- too busy worried about your career and your reputation? Or
- the stuff around your house, your ‘attainments’ have your attention? Are they preventing you from giving thanks for your life experiences, your education and your ability to learn more?
What about the money you ‘received’ that enabled you to buy what you already have. Did you give thanks for that or were you too busy worried about not having the latest model television?
You may not be particularly fond of journaling, but get beyond the act and consciously start giving thanks. Be proactive with your gratitude! Find what works for you – if not a journal or a scrapbook then record your gratitude on your smartphone.
It could even be as simple as writing your thanks on a scrap of paper at the end of each day or just say them before you close your eyes, “Thank you for everything, this day, the comfortable and the not so comfortable, through which I have learnt and grew.”
As I prayed with that family the morning after the collision back in 2005, I saw their pain as they mourned their loved one. At that moment, I realized that it would not have mattered whether my daughter’s make-up was professionally done was she the one lying on that bed.
Gratefully, I wiped the tears from my eyes and hugged the members of the family, acknowledging what they had gifted me – the insight that what mattered was that my daughter was alive and she graduated from high school that May evening. Everything else is extra!
Wherever you are, do not wait for a special day to be thankful. Be grateful, give thanks every single day. Join us in living that way. Visit our social media profiles and connect with us. We are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can subscribe and help us grow our YouTube channel as well.
Peace and Love,