Today is Thanksgiving. In a few hours I will sit at a big, beautiful table, surrounded by people I love, and enjoy a delicious meal and delightful company. It’s a favorite day for me, with simple expectations: time spent with special people. I adore the traditions of the Thanksgiving meal, and, having shared it with many people over the years, I especially enjoy how those traditions, flavors, and recipes vary among us. If spent with people you love, those variations are like a mysterious glove that slips on perfectly even if you’ve never worn it before. Such is the magic of Thanksgiving and love. That’s why I firmly believe that the table could be set with paper plates and cheese curls could be served, and the magic would be the same. Well, perhaps not exactly the same. I might not have to loosen my belt in that scenario, but my heart would be as full.
Many friends have created gratitude journals this year, and I’ve very much enjoyed them sharing those journals. It’s an interesting undertaking, journaling gratitude. It’s a taking stock, really, the practice of noticing. Knowing these friends as I do, I have no doubt that they notice regularly. They are kind, loving, grateful people. The act of chronicling their gratitude, of stating what they’ve noticed, is different, though; this act of reflection is the essence of the holiday. Making the statement, “This is important and significant to me right now.” What a simple, powerful act of testimony. The funny thing is, though, that it’s greatest power, maybe its only true power, is to themselves. Yes, readers can and may be inspired by these statements to reflect on their own lives, and in this way may be influenced to pause and think. However, the real power is to the writer or speaker acknowledging, “What blessings I have in my life today.”
It makes no difference to me what God, if any, one believes in. To acknowledge blessings is to celebrate life, no matter who one thanks for them. And really, what more is our Thanksgiving than a celebration of life, of that which gives us purpose and place? We gather around a table, large or small, elegant or simple, and we share a meal, extravagant or plain, according to our traditions and circumstances, with uppercase Family or lowercase family, those who fill our lives with love. We spend time. We stop and notice.
Tomorrow (or later today, in some unfortunate cases,) will begin an orgy of spending. The acquiring of things. I am guilty of it, too. I love giving gifts, and I enjoy shopping for them, although I won’t be among the crowds tomorrow. Each year I try to choose gifts that will be seen as special, will convey my love and appreciation for the recipient. It’s a challenge at times in a world that works hard to convince us all that we need this or should covet that. The preparation for a season of love becomes stressful, competitive, and irrational. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we allow this? Why do we move from a holiday as simple, purposeful, and beautiful as Thanksgiving into a chaos of stuff?
This year, I hope to carry with me this Thanksgiving feeling of contentment as I prepare for Christmas. This acknowledgement of blessings. This powerful understanding of enough.
Now, let’s go eat some turkey and laugh, shall we?