Tuesday, November 23, 2010


On Thanksgivings past, I have written about the ever changing way America celebrates this holiday. We have certainly strayed a long way from George Washington's original proclamation about this being a day of prayer and thanksgiving to God for the blessing and benefits He has bestowed upon our nation. I'm not sure what giant, cartoon-character balloons, parades and NFL football have to do with thanking God, but I loved watching the parades as a kid and still enjoy the Cowboys game while waiting for the turkey. Anyhow, this year I wanted to talk about gratitude itself, and the many ways it is manifested in our lives.

Giving thanks, being thankful. What do these words mean to you? If someone holds a door open for you, gives you a compliment, or passes you the cranberry sauce, saying thank you is just common courtesy, it is not what we are talking about here. Real gratitude comes when you change the focus of your attention. Real gratitude is turning from the universe of me, to think about others.

We spend most every waking hour wrapped up in ourselves; egocentric in other words. I am probably guiltier of this than anyone. What do I want? How does this affect me? Why is this happening to me? How do I get what I want? These are the questions that fill up our thoughts and take up most of our attention. While it is our human nature to focus on ourselves, here is a question you might want to contemplate this Thanksgiving; how did I get where I am today?

As much as we like to think that we are the authors of our success, everyone had some help. Most of us had plenty, even if we don't realize it. Certainly, there was a lot of hard work and effort, but I could not begin to count the hundreds of people who helped me get where I am today. It is easier to recount the individuals who have helped us out, they shared their love, support, and encouragement, gave us a chance, or gave us a second chance. They have a face, they are familiar to us. Sometimes we forget those Americans who came before us, like our founding fathers and our fallen soldiers, whose shoulders we stand on today. We owe so many, so much, it is good that we should stop and give thanks.

Back to George Washington's point; our gratitude should always start with almighty God. When was the last time you sat down to give thanks to God for the blessings in your life?

Like most families in America, before we sit down to eat our Thanksgiving meal, we will say grace and thank God for our families and the meal. Thanksgiving might be one of times, like Christmas and Easter, where people who normally don't say grace, do it out of a sense of tradition, or because it's a special occasion. Let me pose another question. How would our lives change if we reflected on our blessings, and focused on that feeling at least once a day for the next year? I would bet that small change of perspective could lead to the most content year you may have ever experienced.

This year has been a challenge for many in our community. No matter what life brings us this coming year, turning from the universe of me, to appreciating all the people and all the blessings we have, can make every day just a little bit better. And some days, just a little bit better is what we really need.

I feel so grateful today to have a loving family and great friends. To all the people I have met since I started writing this column, thank you. Your encouragement keeps me going. To those who hate my writing, thanks for keeping me on my toes. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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