Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Well, the LAST thing anybody needs is another opinion on the meaning of Thanksgiving. Soooo... HERE'S MINE! Firstly, my opinion about the topic may hold weight because I used to eat like this EVERY SINGLE DAY! To you... it's Thanksgiving. To me... it's just Thursday. I'm sort of an expert on the overeating thing.

But that's the joke about T.G. isn't it? That we have "forgotten" the REAL meaning of it and just pig out. It's not SUPPOSED to be just about food and unmitigated gluttony. There is something deeper, right? Or there used to be. This is about where we get reminded of the word "thanks" in Thanksgiving and are referred toward gratitude in favor of gastronomic indulgence. Then we are admonished to remember and take stock of what we are thankful for in our own lives. Sound familiar?

Yeah, I know, I've heard this one before too. So where THEY end, I will begin. AFTER you've done a survey of the things in your life that you give lip service to as being worthy of your deep gratitude, let's get real for the rest of this holiday, OK? You can jump ship and just plod ahead to Xmas and do the same bullshit about "the true meaning of things" if you like, or stick with me for a moment of uncomfortable honesty and perhaps consider a new perspective on this day. It's up to you.

Now, for those still reading, let's pick up the game where others leave off. When you have identified the thing you are giving all these thanks for, I'm telling you THAT'S NOT ENOUGH! MY QUESTION AND CONCERN IS WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO WITH IT. It is no big deal to be grateful for having a loving family. Plenty of people don't! Of course, you should be thankful for that! You don't get any credit for being thankful for having awesome people in your life. You are SUPPOSED to be thankful for that kind of stuff. You don't get credit for loving people who love you! That's easy! Even weak moraled people love those who love them. No extra credit! But how are you on loving people who DON'T LIKE YOU? That is a wee bit harder. That gets a tip of my hat!

So when a person tells me how thankful they are for their family but spends a woefully brief amount of time with them, I get confused. If you say you are deeply grateful for something but treat it like shit, I have a hard time BELIEVING THAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY GRATEFUL. See? It is not enough to think we "get it" just by adding up and reciting all the things we have to be grateful for. That's hollow. What ACTIONS will that lead to?! That's what I want to know. That's where we should START.

If you are thankful for your good health... so then, what are you going to DO with that healthy body, may I ask? If you are thankful for your education, what will you DO with your knowledge? If you are thankful for your bank account, what will you DO with your money? To me, it stands to reason that we need to be thankful for all the advantages and people who bless us. But please! Let's not stop our reflection there!

Let's continue to take a moment and ask ourselves if we are ACTING like we REALLY are grateful or just saying so. Then show it by our actions. If you ARE grateful for someone special in your life, when did you last say it to their face and actually do something to PROVE IT to them? This is what I mean when I say it is not enough to be grateful. That's nice, but it doesn't pay the rent. We must act on the things we are grateful for.

If you have an athletic gift it's nice to be thankful for it. But it's not showing too much gratitude by letting it waste away on the shelf. Do something with it! If you don't, that is ok. It just will be a tiny bit hypocritical to talk of how grateful you are to have it. So don't make me choke on all the gratitude you have for your gift when you are too lazy to move on it.

Likewise please spare me the gratitude you have for your wife or children that you miss every school function they are involved with and forget the anniversary you married her on. It's disingenuous to the nth. Keep THAT kind of gratitude to yourself.

My real point here is that we indeed should not be thankless nor take for granted our blessings. But it is not quite enough just to "count" them. Not in my opinion.

 It seems to me that an outstanding way to SHOW your gratitude is to engage with the thing you are thankful for. To act and interact with it. Sure, I think we should count our blessings. But why stop there? Let's put some real time in reflection today (or every day) into how we will EXPRESS our gratitude. How we will use our gifts. How we will thank people in our lives. Gratitude alone is insincere. Gratitude that is acted out becomes a reality.

BTW I read an account of the first Thanksgiving that said that the only beverages they had to drink were water and beer. (!)


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