Today’s post is the featured article from the November 2008 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
I am not really working today! The way I see it, it’s the last Thursday of the month (the publication day for every Front Porch newsletter) and the show must go on! But this is not work — it’s a great day just to pull-up a rocker and ponder gratitude — on the front porch! It is my story and I’m sticking with it!
Today is my favorite holiday of the year. For it is Thanksgiving! And to begin with, I am simply thankful such a holiday was even created along the path of our nation’s history.
On the surface, I’m thankful for such a low-maintenance holiday (ok, so you can tell I’m not doing the cooking!). But there are usually no gifts exchanged and few expectations. It’s just a gathering of family and friends. I like the concept of a “four-day weekend” where the holiday is the first day of your four-day retreat (ok, so you can tell I don’t work in retail!). There is an anticipation of a whole new Holiday Season ready to unfold — a whole new package of memories on the verge of being unwrapped. And, of course, left-overs are something we actually look forward to … rather than dread during other times of the year!
But these are only the surface-level reasons I love Thanksgiving. The real reason I love it is because it has the potential, at a minimum, to refresh us and, at a maximum, to transform us. The whole purpose of the day is simply gratitude.
The question becomes — are we truly willing to celebrate giving thanks?
Like any other traditional holiday, I know we can have the tendency to simply go through the mechanics of the celebration. Some of those mechanics may very well be honoring long-standing family traditions where the celebration of the holiday is done in exactly the same way — just as it has been done in all of recent memory. Others will use this holiday to rest-up for the Friday 4:00am kick-off of the holiday shopping season. Traditions are important … and they can certainly be fun. I cherish and find great comfort in many a tradition. But these have little to do with truly giving thanks.
This year, Thanksgiving arrives at a very challenging time. Yet, as always, it arrives at just the perfect time! For there is never a bad time to give thanks! Our newspapers, our airwaves, and our “water cooler” conversations have recently focused on what is lost and what is down. I would suggest if we focus, long enough, on what is lost — then we will have nothing. On the other hand, if we focus on what we do have — then we will have everything. We will have what we need.
I hope you will not let this day just pass you by. It has the potential to refresh you and transform you if you will truly open your heart to celebrate it. I hope you will find some quiet time to simply stop and mentally review all that is good in your life. I know this will be harder for some than for others — but it will be equally important for all of us. If it helps, make a list. If it helps, enlist others to help you see your blessings. If it hurts, keep searching until even just a crack of light shines through your darkness.
Gratitude is the insecticide for all that drains us — and for so much of what often worries us. It has the ability to choke out the distractions that can destroy you — distractions that make us too busy for thankfulness. Holidays have a way to keep us busier than ever. But not this one. All it asks of you is your gratitude — so it can restore your perspective.
Some would have you believe the next few months are going to be a rocky road. They may well be correct. But it doesn’t mean we can’t make it a great ride. It has the opportunity to give us a fresh perspective — to see what’s really important in ways we haven’t seen in a while — or ever. But only if we are grateful.