Thanksgiving is for counting our Blessings, Or is it?
It’s the month of November and as we prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas soon after that, I started thinking, how many of us are really grateful for our lives? How many of us actually stop to give thanks? Do we model an attitude of gratitude? For most of us, Thanksgiving is a day when we get together with family and friends. All too often these gatherings are filled with stress and anxiety. Parents spend so much time and money making their house look perfect for their guests. The turkey has to be done just right, and the ham must have the golden glaze on it.
Unfortunately with these get-togethers, there are often disagreements. So much time has been spent in the preparation that tempers are frayed. It takes very little provocation to spark friction between siblings and sometimes extended family members and friends.
According to Wikepedia, Thanksgiving became an official Federal holiday in 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. The first Thanksgiving holiday was actually celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims, when they got their first harvest.
How can parents instill the true spirit of Thanksgiving back into the family? How do we as a society driven to achieve and acquire more, learn to count our blessings?
1. Develop a heart of gratitude.
I recently had a reunion with my high school classmates and was struck with the joy that emanated from one of my best friends. This awesome lady has had her fair share of medical problems, but the joy that came for her was so powerful. She was so grateful for the “little things” that we take for granted. She kept saying thank you for making me feel so much at home. Thank you for taking the time to spend with me. She laughed and was so happy and grateful. I admired her and was also ashamed at how much we complain, when we are so blessed. We teach our teens to complain rather than looking for the good in every situation. Let’s sit with our children and teach them to give thanks for good health, for a place to call home, a loving family, the ability to see the sunset. Let’s give thanks for the jobs we do, for the family and friends we get to spend Thanksgiving with. Developing a heart of gratitude keeps us healthy and happy.
2. Live within your means.
Most of us are guilty of spending a little more than we can actually afford to. Thanksgiving should never be a competition about who provides the biggest spread. Resolve as a family not to overspend. Rather than overeating and overspending, consider giving to your favorite charity. Most churches and charities collect canned goods and money to feed the homeless. I’m a firm believer in giving to others less fortunate than we are. Sometimes we benefit even more when we know what a blessing we’ve been in other people’s lives. Be grateful for what you have and be joyful. Don’t overextend yourself financially which is one of the commonest causes of stress and fights during this season.
3. Consider healthy options.
There are so many healthy options for thanksgiving dinner. You can just google recipes and there are so many new and exciting recipes that can be substituted for the traditional sometimes truly fattening options. Most people gain at least a pound to 7 pounds during the holiday season. Unfortunately most people never take off that extra weight and it piles on over the years. Substituting healthier food options, exercising, eating smaller portions that include vegetables and watching how much alcohol (for the adults) is consumed makes a significant difference.
4. Enjoy the day
Decide to enjoy the day. Decide to make it a great day. We have so much to give thanks for. Laugh a lot. Be happy. Forget about getting the place setting on the dining table right. It is so unimportant. When all is said and done, no one will remember the china you served the food in. Your family will remember your family traditions. Your friends will remember the love and laughter you shared. It really is about giving thanks and making memories.
Thanksgiving is indeed a season for counting our blessings, for giving and sharing our time, our love and laughter. We are a truly blessed nation, so for one day of the year, let’s resolve to set aside our complaints and sorrow about all the things we don’t have and wish we had.
Let’s be merry and give thanks, as Abraham Lincoln said, ‘to our beneficient Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.