By: Chris Warren
I must confess: I’m not into Thanksgiving, as in the holiday. It’s always great to have a huge meal and visit with nice people, but in my family we don’t need a special time for that. The day founded by early American colonists as a has evolved into “Christmas Lite,” and I’m not taking the thankful bait. It’s now officially a hollow, feel good celebration when for one day everyone raises their glass to the idea of gratitude but does not think much of it the rest of the year.
Thankful People have two common traits: First, they are never superficially grateful. They don’t post trite memes on Facebook and call it good enough or say “thank you” to strangers as a matter of courtesy more than true feeling. They will bring cookies to the neighbor who shoveled their snow without being asked, or send an email to praise the flight attendant who went very far out of their way to assist an elderly passenger in a wheelchair (both of these examples actually happened). If the bulk of your appreciation involves sitting around a table once a year talking about how thankful you are, then all you are really doing is making yourself feel good. Thankful People don’t just say they are thankful. Thankful People know it’s not about them. They act thankful. They make others feel valued, all the time.
Second, Thankful People cheerfully do things for others and are grateful for the chance to be of service. That sounds counterintuitive: Shouldn’t the one who hands out the blessing be the recipient of thanks? Yes, but appreciation is never a one way street. Every kind act originates from someone’s desire to make the world a little better. Knowing they have accomplished their goal is in itself a reason to be thankful. The Thankful Person puts the “giving” in Thanksgiving.
I certainly don’t have a problem with the concept of being thankful, or for that matter a day to commemorate it. Yet I can’t help but notice that Thanksgiving, the holiday, has lost its real meaning the same way hardly anyone thinks about why we have a Memorial Day or Labor Day or any other fill-in-the-blank-Day. It’s become another easy excuse to stuff our faces and watch sports on TV.
The fact that there is a need for a Thanksgiving is evidence that we don’t have enough of it. Why and how have we reached a point where gratitude requires its own special day? Thankful People are already living it, and everyone else won’t get the message anyway. What are they doing the other 364 days of the year? If you feel different on Thanksgiving than you do every other day, then you are doing something wrong.