Thanksgiving has passed. We’ve all expressed our gratitude for family, friends, turkey and stuffing. Or have we? Were you annoyed when Aunt Rose complained that the mashed potatoes had lumps? Did sibling rivalry hijack the camaraderie you were hoping to find around the dinner table? Or did you have to work that day so hungry shoppers could get their fill of Christmas bargains?
It’s probably impossible to feel grateful every moment; still, it’s worth investing time into bringing gratitude into our lives on a regular basis. In the last few years, researchers have gotten serious about investigating the relationship between gratitude and physical and mental health. Blogger Ocean Robbins summarizes the latest findings on Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living.” He says, “If you can find any authentic reason to give thanks, anything that is going right with the world or your life, and put your attention there, then statistics say you’re going to be better off.”
One Facebook friend is going through the alphabet this month, finding a word to go with each letter representing something she’s grateful for. She asked for ideas for the letter Q. Others prompted her with ‘Quiet,’ a condition many people will yearn for between now and the first of next year.
For some this time of year brings more than its share of feelings of joy. For others the pressure of expectations can take its toll. It’s a family time but families change. Our childhood memories of the holiday may not match our adult experiences.
My family has been whittled away until we’re down to just a few. So when people ask, “Is your family coming to your house for the holiday?” I say yes. It’s easier than, “We are our family.” These days when I approach the topic of Thanksgiving and gratitude I like to take the long view, to think of the people and conditions that brought me to this point starting with my parents. I can come up with an extraordinarily long list of people who have influenced and are still influencing my life: teachers, coaches, my husband, former work colleagues and many friends. A rush of gratitude comes over me as I become conscious of how much love and support I’ve received over the years. Suddenly one good or bad day doesn’t matter.