HumankindNESS: Happy Thanksgiving

By Jennifer Richardson
Happy Thanksgiving. Happy and Thanksgiving. Will your celebration of this thankful Holiday include happiness?

Many things might happen over your holiday. You may consume more than your fair share of turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the wonderful trimmings. You may be surrounded by family and friends and talk and laugh and share the highlights of your life.

Sports might find their way into your afternoon and evening. A full belly and great game could make another kind of great memory.

Perhaps you will spend hours in a car or some mode of public transportation just to catch a few precious hours with loved ones you won’t see again for ages.

Maybe you will experience your Holiday without someone you love, and every glance around the room will remind you of the empty place in your life and heart. You may want to be thankful, but it will be a struggle to see the blessings through the loss.

Maybe you will be alone, the kind of loneliness that only a Holiday can evoke. That feeling that you are enveloped in a pocket of unobtrusive and unnoticed isolation; the celebrations are as close as next door, but a million miles from the chair where you sit.

Whatever happens, have a Happy Thanksgiving. Choose to hear the message intrinsic within the way we greet each other at this time of year; Joy and Gratitude are experienced hand in hand. The practice of gratitude creates change. When we choose thankfulness we appreciate life as it comes, we can experience it as inward abundance even if our outward reality is only a pittance.

Thankfulness is a choice, a way of life, a daily discipline that opens the door to happiness and it’s more meaningful and long-lasting cousin, Joy. Thanksgiving and Happy; one concept gives birth to the other. It is impossible to experience authentic thankfulness without a positive result to the inner self.

A quote attributed to H.U. Westermayer is one of the most profound understandings of Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.

We should try not to lose sight of the lesson the pilgrims taught us with so great a personal sacrifice. In the face of incredible challenges and heartbreaking loss, they knew the essential value of taking time to express appreciation.

No matter what kind of day the Thanksgiving holiday will be for you or your family, it won’t really be about the food, the sports, how far you traveled, or the number of people that surrounded you. It will be a day to recognize that human beings can experience joy in spite of any circumstance if they are willing to practice thankfulness.

My best hopes are that our daily lives are a reflection of the deeper meaning of what we celebrate on the fourth Thursday in November. And I hope we express our gratitude as our pilgrim forefathers did—in ways that others can witness. William Faulkner said it well when he said, gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to be useful.

Happy Thanksgiving! Keep the current of thankfulness strong in your heart and express it in ways people can see; it lights up your spirit and your world.

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