Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. Henry Van Dyke
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love that it's a day centered around food, family and friends, with no religious overtones to it. Love and gratitude fill the air as much as the sweet smells of the turkey roasting in the oven. I like to think that Thanksgiving kicks off the Season of Gratitude. There's no doubt that winter is just around the corner. Our days of sunlight have lessened dramatically in the last month. Actually, here in the Pacific Northwest we can't really lay claim to any sunlight the past few days, just different variations of gray and rain. Lots of rain. Trees are now bare, stripped down to their essence; their brilliant leaves of just a few weeks ago lie scattered on the ground. People are inside more and with that comes a natural inclination to look inward.
So in the next two days we begin to make our way to be with family and friends for a long weekend of eating, of conversations, of laughter, of movies and football games, and memories of past Thanksgivings. Those that are no longer with us are remembered with love and, yes, also with sadness. But we reminisce and talk about them, so that although they are not physically with us their memories envelop and sustain us.
I love the fact that we are invited to linger at Thanksgiving. Our days rush by at such a fast and furious pace during most of the year. And yet, at Thanksgiving we devote a day to food--making it and consuming it. We take time to linger at the table, soaking up each other's company, savoring each sweet moment. We don't do that enough in our day-to-day lives. I wish we did. Lingering helps us be present in the moment. It helps slow time down a bit. Lingering helps us really listen to one another.
I'm grateful for so many things in my life. I'm grateful for my amazing family and friends, for the roof over my head, and the food in my refrigerator, for my job, for this blog, my health, and for the books on my shelves. I'm grateful for so much more than I can even say. And yet I know there are many who live without the most basic of human necessities. I don't want to forget them. I was just lucky enough to be born in this country at this time and I was given many different opportunities to succeed. I have so much. I want to be mindful of that and I want to remember that there are people who have so much less than me.
So on this holiday weekend as we linger over our tables, let's take some time to also remember those less fortunate. Let's talk about ways we can help make the world a more just and equitable place. December is just around the corner, and is often a stressful time for many. As we head back into our hurried lives on Monday, let's try and come up with one action that will help someone less fortunate get through the month of December. If we do that we will carry the true spirit of Thanksgiving forward.