“Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.”
I wrote to one of my closest and oldest friends in Melbourne, Australia, wishing her a Happy Thanksgiving. Australia does not celebrate Thanksgiving, it is a uniquely North American holiday. Regina replied: “Gigi, we have a lot to be thankful for.”
Some hours later I reflected on the words I had zapped back. “Regi, I think one of the coolest things about living in America is that there’s a national public holiday, second only to Christmas, dedicated specifically to giving thanks. Isn’t that rather excellent!”
I’m not going to debate here the good and bad of the origins of Thanksgiving, but rather recognize the fact that celebrating a day focused on gratitude is precisely that, “excellent.”
It would be even more so (read, very excellent) if we were thankful for all the good in our lives every day, if every day was a giving thanks day, for surely this would direct our consciousness towards joy, generosity, peace and goodwill.
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder,” said G.K. Chesterton. It is the simple math of living, I think.
Giving thanks, being grateful for who is, and what you have, in your life is a choice. Gratitude, an attitude of thankfulness, cannot be forced. It is a decision that is purely ours to make. But I know this, when I am aware of gratitude, when I feel it in my very core, I release the past and revel in the joy of the present. For as Thornton Wilder put it, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
The world is a big place, and I come from the other side of it, far from family, old friends, and a familiar environment and climate. But in America, the country that has become so dear to my heart, for many years on Thanksgiving day I am welcomed into the homes of new friends to partake in an abundance of love, joy and laughter among all who sit around a communal table, glasses charged and hearts filled with gratitude (and stuffing).
On the last Thursday of each November, in this wonderful country we live thanks. And it becomes as James Russell Lowell wrote:
“Not what we give,
But what we share,
For the gift without the giver,