As Thanksgiving approaches we are reminded to stop and take stock of the things in our lives to be thankful for. The first American Thanksgiving, as tradition has it, was a harvest festival. Our modern celebration is full of excess and abundance as well. We work hard for hours, even days, preparing more food than we can possibly eat. Harvest is a time of plenty, so it is easy to find things to be thankful for.
The past few Thanksgivings for me have been a mixed bag of whether I have been in the mood for celebration or not. Three short years ago e made the trip home to say a final good-bye to my grandmother, who had hosted Thanksgiving for many of my childhood years. While we were visiting my mom got her initial cancer diagnosis, kicking off one of the roughest times for my family that I’ve ever experienced and sending me into a nervous, distanced state that lasted for almost an entire year. Even last year, while I was excited at the anticipation of my baby’s arrival, I was reticent to celebrate as usual because it might be the last chance to do so, and I didn’t want that pressure. This year though, I’m trying to take a better approach that I hope will improve this holiday for me in the future. I’m going to take the abundance of this year and carry it with me through the rest of the year and beyond.
Practice For The Lean Times
By giving thanks when there is plenty, we are able to exercise the skill of gratitude, building a habit that can serve us even when it becomes more difficult to find things to be thankful for. It is easy to come up with a list of the people and circumstances that leave us feeling warm and fuzzy while we enjoy warm food in our bellies. Having those lists prepared can let us revisit the same blessings when we are feeling more downtrodden. I have spent a lot of time looking back at what I was thankful for last year when I was struggling to feel happy with my life. I know that the practice my parents instilled in me as a young child have helped me to be grateful more and complain less.
Recognition Of Our Privilege
One thing I have to admit, is that it has been pretty easy for me to be thankful. I am privileged enough to have had many things in life that others are not able to have. I traveled more than the average person, attended college, secured a job in my field before even graduating. I never worried about being cold or hungry. Thanksgiving is a time when I become particularly aware of all the things I take for granted, that I should be grateful for. The things that not everyone has.
Empathy And Generosity
Instead of sitting in a high tower and looking down on those with a different set of blessings, I use Thanksgiving to hit reset on my selfish and self-centered attitudes. I try to recognize the material things that I can be grateful for, but more than that, I recognize the blessings of friendships and time with family that are to often put on the back burner. Because I have such a privilege of being able to afford to spend time with those people, it makes me more generous with the material things that I do have. I start thinking about Christmas gifts around this time of year. I can manage to set aside my differences and share my abundance with people whose worldviews are different from mine, just like they did back in the inaugural celebration almost 400 years ago.
All of this can be summed up in the singular idea of an abundance mindset: an approach to life that looks at what I have instead of what I don’t. This type of focus doesn’t just help when times are good, but gives us a lens to see everything in life through. But don’t just take my word for it, have a look at what Regina shared on the subject of Surviving Thanksgiving: What I’ve Learned To Value Most This Time Of Year or read this post where a Random Crafty Georgia Girl reminds us To Ask The Lord’s Blessing. Being thankful is something that Thanksgiving helps us carry through to the rest of the year.