Living Thankfully

As we all descended upon my oldest child’s home in Baltimore this week; I fast and furiously began planning each second of the upcoming days. Get turkey and dressing from this place, get green bean casserole from that store(remember I DON’T cook)… whew… I was exhausted and the reheating was still a day away! So, I sat for five minutes while some eggs were boiling and quickly began to check my emails. I opened one that requested I write a 500-1000 word blog about Thanksgiving for The Huffington Post. I sighed deeply and all three kids looked up from their card game and said what’s wrong? I said, “Oh, The Huffington Post has asked me to write a blog about Thanksgiving and what it means to me. I love those guys, really I do, but I just don’t think I can squeeze anything else into this insane schedule!” Then what to my wandering eyes should appear… No one other than SJ! What were you expecting Santa Claus? I hear this, “I’ll do it, Mom”; he is a freshman journalism major at Loyola of Maryland, today anyway! I said, “SJ, you think you can write something that when people read it they will be compelled to get up, get out and make a difference?” He said, “I do Mom.” I initially had thought he was kidding, and I realized he was anything but kidding. He worked for sometime as the hustle and bustle continued around him.

Then as I was unloading the last of the food out of the car he said, “Here, read this”… Yes, this is the little kid from The Blind Side who we watered and fed and much to my surprise, he wrote a beautiful piece. I’m not sure why this took me by surprise, but I feel fairly certain his words will compel you to dig deep the next couple of weeks and finish this year doing things that aren’t so frenzied and frustrating but are life changing. Think hard about what really matters and make someone else’s holiday season merry and bright! Without any further intro from a proud Mom… Here’s SJ…

While it is accurate that Thanksgiving only comes once a year, I think Thanksgiving is more of an attitude that we should live by than a holiday. Thanksgiving promotes an attitude of gratitude; I apologize on the front end for the rhyme, merely a coincidence. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.” If you have the freedom to read this little article, you have much to be thankful for.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared that the last Thursday of every November be celebrated with a national holiday known as “Thanksgiving Day” to honor those colonists and Wampanoag Indians who sat down and shared a feast one Autumn day in 1621. William Bradford, the “governor” of Plymouth and the first colonists who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 arranged this meal. The point of my telling you this is not to bore you with history. My point is that the original settlers sat down and were thankful for a meal even though about half of the original 102 colonists who traveled over on the Mayflower perished during the first winter.

Abraham Lincoln created the holiday in the middle of the Civil War. He had time to be thankful even though he was the leader of our nation during the biggest turmoil our country has ever had to go through. I’d be curious to see what Lincoln would think of the country he once led today. He might think it humorous how our perceptions of words like Thanksgiving, blessing, giving, etc. have changed.

Recently, our nation had the privilege of voting for our president. Instead of being thankful for the fact that we were able to watch two men debate on our television or read about it on our computers, our tablets, or in newspapers, we complain that the candidate we wanted or didn’t want to win did not. I bet people in China and North Korea sure would have enjoyed their voices being heard.

If you are reading this on an electronic device, it is estimated that less than 1 percent of the world owns a computer. How is that for something that we overlook? About 151,600 people die every day, which equates to about 2 people per second; Life is a gift. I had a friend open the fridge the other day and jokingly mumbled how there was nothing good to eat. I thought about this for a second and wondered how many people open their refrigerators and have nothing. Take that a step further; think how many people are not afforded the luxury of even owning a refrigerator. I know this message is very cliché and pounded in our heads from such a young age, but we truly do have so much that we are blessed with.

So as my dad says,”What is the rub?” The rub is that the holiday is not “Thanks-getting.” This day was not designed just for us to sit around a table and be thankful for blessings. As aforementioned, Thanksgiving is an attitude. The cheesy definition of “gratitude” is: “The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” So as you sit around a table, thankful for blessings remember the key word in the definition is: show.

It is not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them. Sure, it may be easy for me to say; my parents are still together and as of now are not included in the 8 percent of American population who are not holding jobs. So yes, it is easy to sit around a table with friends, family or send a tweet out or however you will be communicating on this holiday about counting our blessings, but counting only gets you so far. Living thankfully, showing, not telling, is a true measure of our Thanksgiving.


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