Thanksgiving. It’s heavy on the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and on football games, fun runs and family gatherings. This year, the holiday also will be filled with shopping for many as several merchants have moved their Black Friday sales up a day, hoping to create Thrifty Thursday.
It’s definitely a complete day — one that can easily leave us feeling overfull. Yet, with the hustle and bustle of the pie baking and placecard making, with the new ways of celebrating the day, has even the name of the holiday itself been lost in the mix?
It’s called Thanksgiving — that’s a time for giving thanks. In a specific sense, that refers to the original tradition of expressing gratitude through prayer—giving thanks to a higher power for the blessings and bounties of the harvest. In a broader sense, it’s a time to say thank you to others around us as well, for their kindnesses and contributions in our lives.
Interesting, isn’t it, and quite logical really, that the Thanksgiving holiday should fall where it does, following the gathering and reaping—and before we run out and use those bounties to buy and share and indulge ourselves during the Christmas holidays (not to mention doing our year-end accounting). There, in the middle is that time to pause, to praise, to put things back in perspective — to truly give thanks where thanks is deserved.
In that regard, I’ve been on both sides recently of the “thank you” scale, and it’s taught me a bit about “thanksgiving” (lower case)…and how I want to do things this “Thanksgiving.” On one end of the scale, I had the experience of working many hours on a project, successfully completing my assignments, only to have the “kudos” go to someone else. Not a huge deal, really — but that is a far sight different than the opposite experience. On that end of the scale, it was basically the same scenario — an extensive project that required a great deal of time, but the “reward” of simply being thanked made all the difference in how I felt at the end. It also taught me something about giving thanks in general. First, I learned to just do it! Be grateful and express it. Second, I found out to be nothing but genuine. Say what you are grateful for in the most specific, most direct terms possible.
Most amazing of all was the ripple effect a simple thank you created. It generated greater teamwork, more camaraderie and a great deal of forward motion for the next project! (Wouldn’t those be great things to have more of in our families, our marriages, our community?)
With this recent lesson in mind, I intend to include in my own Thanksgiving preparations—in between the baking and the basting — time to not only count my many, many blessings but to express the gratitude I feel for each and every one! I hope to keep alive the true Thanksgiving tradition — speaking praises, first, to the giver of all good gifts; and, second, thanking the many people who have touched my life in countless caring ways.
Cecily Markland has more than 20 years experience as an editor, writer, project manager and journalist. A Mesa resident, she is the managing editor for The Beehive newspaper, serving Arizona’s LDS community, and a regular contributor to the East Valley Tribune.