Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It always has been. I love watching Thanksgiving Day parades on TV. I love the aroma of pumpkin pie and turkey roasting in the oven. I love the feel and sound of family gathering. I love the crisp cool air that fills my lungs and the crunch of dried leaves under my feet when I go for a walk after eating too much. Everything about the holiday I love.
2020 has given all of us our share of challenges - most of them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been more unknowns than knowns, more sadness than joy, more conflict than peace and more doubt than hope. 2020 has been a difficult year.
There have been other years similarly challenging for me, but for different reasons. 2014 was one of those years. In fact, it was so challenging that it was the first time I was dreading my favorite holiday. Even though I knew I was going to celebrate Thanksgiving in all the ways I love and with the people I love, there was something missing that year that diminished my usual excitement and passion for the day.
I remember waking up on Thanksgiving morning and forcing myself to think about all I was thankful for in my life. It seemed like the right thing to do given it was a day of giving thanks. But, it was really hard to do. For so long I had only focused on what was going wrong in my life and not on what was going right.
It was a struggle, but by the day’s end, I had a list of what I was thankful for in my life.
I went to bed that night and prayed. I gave thanks for all the blessings on my list. Within moments of ending my prayer, I felt different. For the first time in a long time, I truly felt grateful. It wasn’t just words of thanks I was saying. I really FELT thankful. I cried. It had been a long time since I cried tears of thankfulness.
For me, every day since then has started and ended with a grateful heart. I think deeply and reflect on the blessings of the day – from the smallest to the biggest. No matter how bad the day may have been, I challenge myself to come up with at least five blessings. Some days it’s harder to do than others. But, there hasn’t been one day when I couldn’t generate a list of five blessings.
My life challenges have not disappeared because of this new daily practice. What has changed, though, is how I view them. I can now see how many of the challenges have become some of today’s greatest blessings. And, just as my challenges have multiplied over the years so have my blessings!
Since 2014, I have also come to understand and appreciate my favorite holiday even more. Thanksgiving Day isn’t about watching parades, preparing a special meal or the gathering of family and friends. It’s really about having a grateful heart and giving thanks. That’s what was missing for me on Thanksgiving Day 2014.
Thanksgiving Day will be tomorrow. Maybe it’s a day you are looking forward to or one you are dreading. No matter how you will or will not be celebrating Thanksgiving this year, remember this…
If there’s one thing the pandemic can NOT take away from your Thanksgiving Day in 2020, it is the opportunity to give thanks and have a grateful heart! Generate your list of five blessings tomorrow and every day thereafter. Try and make every day Thanksgiving Day!
P.S. Thank you for doing what you do out in the world! I'm confident you are on alot of other people's list of blessings - just as you are on mine.