Thanksgiving is not an American celebration. We are led to believe that the holiday is about the first pilgrims, but the Native American’s celebrated a similar feast every year in thanks for a good harvest. The Jewish faith has celebrated a similar Thanksgiving for centuries to celebrate their God, and Islam has several holidays that give thanks to and for God. In fact most cultures have a day to celebrate life and to give thanks.
Giving thanks is not a new concept, and along the lines the day has lost a little bit of its meaning as it has become a day to watch football, get stuffed and get ready for Black Friday. In my family giving thanks happened for all of about 5 minutes before the stuffing of people actually started, and the rest of the day was dedicated to getting ready for the meal or cleaning up from the meal.
Because of the work that I do I have several clients that struggle to find things to be thankful for. Every single one of them misses the small things in their lives that are amazing and beautiful. I had this discussion with a client last night about having her child taken away from her by Children’s Protective Services. She was able to see that it placed her son in safety while she was able to find continued sobriety and an increasing strength in herself. She was able to give thanks for having the room right now to fail and learn from her failures if necessary while her son is safe.
Even our struggles help us on our path for growth, and often get us to someplace wonderful and amazing. It is only when we fall in to despair and forget that there is a light at the end of the tunnel that we get lost in the pain and don’t find the other side with the beauty. On this one day, can you see the things that are struggles in your life, that cause you pain and difficulty and find some way to re-frame them in to beauty? That is true Thanksgiving. Being able to see the beauty in even the pain, and finding the little things that we sometimes miss.
A daily practice of thanks gratitude is especially important now, as we as a country enter a time of upheaval and change. I find gratitude that the change is happening, even while I am afraid of the change process. I remember that any kind of change will come with trauma. I have to remember that change never comes as I expect, and the storm is there to help tear down so rebuilding can happen.
- My demanding cat that show She loves me by purring loudly by at 5:00 am, and licking my toes after I swim
- The way the air smells the morning after a rainstorm
- The things I have to loose in my life, because I have them
- All of the goals I haven’t met, because they give me directions
- The goals I have met
- My struggles, because keeping with myself through them shows I have strength
- The little tree in my back yard that has clung to life for 13 years and keeps on holding its ground
- The disagreements I have with my Husband, because each time we find compromise we become stronger together.
- The blue of the water, the blue of the sky, the green of the grass, the wind in the trees
- The small moments every day that provide surprising beauty, that all I need to do is open my eyes to see.
- The support of my family, even though they are states away from me, and we don’t always get along with each other
- The trials and struggles of my past, surviving them has made me the person I am today
- The flowers (both metaphorical and real) growing in places of strife and hurt
- The people in our world that continue to fight for kindness and acceptance