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Put The “Thanks” Back In Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, the one holiday that celebrates gratitude.

Or is it?

If you think about it, every holiday celebrates gratitude in some way:

  • Independence Day: We’re grateful for freedom!
  • Christmas: We’re thankful for the birth of Christ.
  • Hanukkah: We’re grateful that the oil burned for eight days!
  • New Year’s Day: We made it to a new year!
  • Vetarans Day: We’re thankful for the people who protect our country.

Thanksgiving is not unique in celebrating gratitude at all! (The only holiday I can’t find gratitude for is Halloween. As I’ve said before, there is little true meaning in that holiday.)

I’ve always been a little stuck on the roots of Thanksgiving, at least according to the “Pilgrims and Indians” story we’re told as children. Some Native Americans did help the Pilgrims and the other English settlers by teaching them about hunting and farming in the New World, but the English rewarded them with what amounted to genocide, through the spread of disease, enslavement, and brutal warfare. It’s hard for me to feel thankful for those events.

Instead, I try to be thankful for the modern-day spin on Thanksgiving, which seems to be moving toward gratitude for personal gifts and joys, rather than the celebration of flawed history. When I was younger, I saw little meaning in the holiday; it seemed, for most people, to be about food and football, with maybe a round of “what are you thankful for this year?” around the dinner table. But now, through Facebook and Pinterest and other social-sharing sites, I’m seeing groups of people who truly do want to celebrate gratitude. On Facebook, people share something they’re grateful for every day in November. On Pinterest, popular Thanksgiving pins show big chalkboards covered with statements of gratitude, or jars full of notes expressing thanks from one family member to another. Seeing these things in other people’s homes warms my heart and inspires me- and, I suspect, many others- to put the “Thanks” back in Thanksgiving.

So I ask you- what does Thanksgiving mean to you? Is it just another holiday celebrating gratitude for something intangible? Or can it be about feeling true gratitude for all the joys and gifts we have in our lives? What can you do to put the “Thanks” back in Thanksgiving for you and your family?

 

This post is part of a mini-series on gratitude. You can find previous posts here:

Three Steps To Greater Gratitude Mindfulness

How Being Grateful For What You Have Can Give You More

Gratitude Book #1: Anne of Green Gables

5 Ways To Say “Thank You

Receiving Gratitude

Gratitude Book #2: The Glass Castle

Gratitude For My 2013 Life

Gratitude When Times Are Tough

Ten Movies That Teach Gratitude

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