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.
Oh, Ann…Once again you’ve ‘hit the nail on the head,” as you so often/positively did in all the years I worked for/with you. Likely because of my own parents’/family members’ influence…and that of friends…not one day goes by that I’m not thankful. Truly, I miss those who are no longer a part of my life, but their incredible impact on me remains. Finding joy each day is subjective…we can either do it or not. Like you, I choose to.
I am thankful that what was threatening to be a stressful holiday turned out to be warm and calm and memorable. My ex-husband behaved himself. My daughter-in-law held a long phone conversation with my sister so I could clean the kitchen and get desserts on the table in a timely fashion. The children moved to a “kids’ table” for the first time and behaved well, although the three-year-old stated emphatically, “I’m NOT EATING TURKEY!” (“Ha! More for me,” I retorted). Many inside jokes and shared insights. I like a Facebook post that said something like “only a cramped soul would reserve thanks for one day a year,” but I also really like, and wonder at, the fact that the United State of America sets aside a special day to give thanks. Surely this has to be the most unusual civic holiday in the world. And I’m grateful for your blog, Ann. It’s always enjoyable to read.
I love your observations; they are right on as are the comments above. I attended a Thanksgiving church service on Wednesday evening and heard the minister said we have it all backwards. Instead of having one day a year to be thankful, we should have 364 days to be thankful and just one day a year to indulge in griping and complaining. I suppose we are all saying the same thing and for many good reasons..