STOPPING TO GIVE THANKS
Thanksgiving Day is not one that is observed on the island of my birth – Jamaica. Throughout my youth, I was mostly unaware of the day that North Americans stopped to give thanks.
Today is that day here in Canada and our American friends will be sending up their thanks in November. Why such close neighbours and cousins chose to observe Thanksgiving almost a month apart I honestly do not know. However, if you really are curious, Google is sure to have an answer.
I am neither a native of the United States or Canada. My migration to North America was years in the making but finally happened in 2002 when my family and I relocated from the warm shores of Jamaica to the land of the big skies – Alberta, Canada. There are those who are aware of Thanksgiving Day, especially now in the age of social media. We in Jamaica do not share the history behind Thanksgiving. Without getting political, quite frankly, it is one of domination, invasion and occupation. Leaving all that aside, the true question is, ought we not be giving thanks daily?
DAILY THANKSGIVING AND GRATITUDE
Approaching this day here and the celebrations in the United States, there was and will be full court ‘coverage’ of Thanksgiving tables. Personally, I do not like the Thanksgiving bird, turkey, as it is not the preferred poultry on my island home. Actually, I cooked a turkey for the first time in 2015. It was a long process as I followed a method and recipe that was supposed to make the bird tender and tasty. The long and short of it, however, is that maybe I needed to have kept the bird in the brine for longer.
Many of the blogs across the Internet – at least the ones that I read – publish pieces dedicated to Thanksgiving Day preparations, recipes and activities. Some share more heartfelt inspirational posts about the people and things we all could be grateful for. Others share how they will express this gratitude on Thanksgiving Day.
We here have done our part discussing giving thanks and being grateful. Over the years, we have published several articles on the topic. These are but a few:
- Enough: Is There In Your World
- It’s No Secret: You Can Change Your Life Story With Gratitude
- Open The Gates To Your Abundance With Gratitude
- How To Use Your Gift And Thrive Wherever You Are
- Tap Into Your Gratefulness Force In 3 Steps
BE THANKFUL IN ALL THINGS
One of my favourite pieces among all these great ones is “How To Be Thankful In All Things.”
We are easily thankful when things are going as we hoped, dreamed and even prayed that they would. However, when things are falling apart, that spirit of thankfulness goes MIA. It is very much like a failure. We all want to win but not realising that there will be many losses before that. Being grateful for the lessons in failure we learn to hone our skills is something that many do not practice.
While you are invited to read it for yourself, indulge me and let me share some key points from that post. Whether you are a Christian or any sort of Believer, the first exert is the scriptural quotes.
“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!” 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 something 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.
INTENTIONALLY GRATEFUL AND GIVING THANKS
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. You do not need to be 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. Relationships improved and became more authentic. By being thankful for her and letting her know that I was, my (then)teenage daughter opened up to me more. Meaningful job opportunities began opening to me.
More importantly, by being intentionally grateful I feel more love in my life and I feel more capable of loving.
ATTITUDE IS REALLY EVERYTHING
Whether you observe Thanksgiving Day – in October or November, is your daily attitude a thankful one? 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? 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?
- does 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 or cell phone?
You may not be particularly fond of journalling, 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.”
Happy Thanksgiving Day – today and every day!