Thanksgiving has been a large family get together with grandparents and relatives for as long as I can remember. We ate real pumpkin pie, homemade dressing that melted in your mouth, and the turkeys that were roasted barely fit in the oven. When I was young we gathered at my grandparent’s farm, and eventually my parent’s farm, and eventually, as we grew into family life ourselves, my brothers and sisters and I took turns having the Thanksgiving dinners at our house.
I have memories of the Macy’s day parade on the TV in the background, and the adults having cocktails and wine hanging around the kitchen. We kids were playing games or with toys, and many times we played together outside. As we had our own kids the dynamics changed from us playing with cousins, to my siblings and I doing the cooking and drinking wine before we sat down to eat. Not everyone could make it every year, as there were sometimes obligations with in-laws, but we celebrated with whoever was available. The food was always amazing, and catching up with everyone and being together was really nice. It got everyone in the holiday mood and started the holiday fun.
Christmas is different. It has the religious aspects, and the Santa and gift giving fun, but Thanksgiving is special. There is no need to shop for presents and the holiday stress. It is a simple dinner with relatives and friends, but more importantly a day set aside to count our blessings and be thankful for what we have. It is not a time to think about our future, our goals or especially to worry about what we don’t have. We just need to take stock of what we do have and be thankful for all of those things. Remember those who face fierce battles with cancer, the loss of loved ones, loneliness and poverty. Help where you can.
To just celebrate Thanksgiving and have the dinner and the wine without the reflection is to short change yourself. I don’t mean everyone needs to be that family that has to go around the table and share out loud what they are thankful for. That is fine, but I suspect everyone feels so put on the spot or awkward that it is a meaningless exercise anyway. Many others look more on Thanksgiving to count their blessings in a more religious way. I believe that it does not matter if you are religious or not, or whether you like the historical aspect of Thanksgiving or look at Thanksgiving as a harvest celebration, that it would be a real missed opportunity not to take advantage of the meaning of this holiday and take stock in all you have.
I am a list maker and I am always setting goals and I have plans for the year, and a five year and ten year plan. All of those things are a little embarrassing to put in writing, but I have found that if I want to accomplish something I have to have a plan. But as we focus on plans, we are always looking forward. That is a good thing, but it should be balanced with reflecting on what we have and being thankful and happy in all that we have. I start by being Thankful for the best kids a mom could ask for. They are all fun, happy and hard working. They have goals and I have to say that the three of them are the most fun crowd to be with on any holiday. I am Thankful for another fun year (due to good planning) and the ability to travel and the good jobs we have and have retained. We have a nice house on a lake and Joe and I have a lot of fun together. It does not matter if we are traveling together or taking wallpaper off or doing home projects; we have a good time together and that is important after almost thirty years of marriage.
I have learned after 57 years of life that no matter what you have, there are people who will always have more than you and there are many more who have less than you. Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time and steals your own happiness. There is always a negative or a positive way to look at everything, whether it is your past, your present or your future. If you choose to look at the negative, you rob yourself of your happiness.
On Thanksgiving take time to focus and reflect on the positive and to take note of all of the things you are or should be Thankful for. It does not matter how old you are or what you have, you have enough and you are enough. Love your family, love yourself, love your life and be positive in all that you do. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect. Take the opportunity and bask in the glow of all that you do have!! Happy Thanksgiving!