I happen to find myself super lucky because I have family and friends both in Canada and in the USA so I manage to wiggle my way into two Thanksgiving celebrations. Although the feasting is wonderful and the time spent with loved ones is priceless I also count the ability to focus on gratitude in amongst the blessings of this holiday.
I was mulling over the idea of counting your blessings (something we all need to do more often I think) and being grateful when I decided to write this post. I realized that as human beings it is in our nature to adjust to our situations and begin perceiving the way things are a ‘normal’ and ‘everyday’. I wonder if this is a throwback to some survival instinct perhaps? Either way could this be what causes us to gloss over all that we have to actually be grateful for?
It may be hard to imagine but there are still places in this world where there is no cable tv, no phones and certainly no internet. In fact there are places where clean water is a struggle and may not be one that the people are winning. We worry our house is too small, our car isn’t new enough or we don’t have a smart phone. This was really hit home when I saw a Christmas clip off the show America’s Funniest Home Videos where a boy about 8 or 9 opened a gift (one of many by the looks of it) and it was a sweater. He proceeded to pout, throw it down and stomp off to his room shouting Christmas is over and ruined. His parents laughed about it hysterically. Really? That’s funny? Hmmm.
On the other hand I have a friend who has a little boy about 5 who has been taught that in order to get more toys at Christmas he must make room for them. He and his mom take all the toys out of his toy box and make piles. One is for broken, one is for charity and one is to keep. This little boy actually takes his things to the shelter and hands them over. He actually sees the kids who haven’t got what he does and often is quite thoughtful about it. Last year he suggested that they look through his keep pile one more time and he found a few more he really didn’t use much and back they went to the shelter. This little boy has learned the true spirit of generosity and empathy.
Perhaps we owe our forefathers a bit more of debt then we realize. They celebrated at the end of the harvest because they could survive another winter. They were grateful for the lessons learned and that the hard work paid off. Along with this they set us up to have a holiday that reminds us to be grateful for what we have. We need to teach our children to appreciate what is around them already instead of allowing them to grow up force-fed by the marketers that they need more and more. Of course in order to do that, we need to start by showing appreciation ourselves. Isn’t Thanksgiving the perfect time to start doing this?
So what are you grateful for?