I think that it’s fitting that the calendar placement of Thanksgiving is before the rest of our traditional holidays. I’m glad we don’t cram Thanksgiving into one of the days between Christmas and New Years Day. Carefully contemplating gratitude and enjoying what we have, is a good thing to do before we join in the orgy of greed that is so much a part of our Christmas culture.
It has become a common point of humor lampooning our rush to purchase cartloads of stuff on the day after we give thanks for the amazing bounty we already have. Before we have fully digested our Thanksgiving feast, many of us are waiting in line to indulge in that ironic “holiday” called “Black Friday”.
Originally, the name “Black Friday” was coined in reference to the needs of retail businesses to assure that their ledgers come out in the black of profit instead of the red of deficit.
On the other hand, many of us see the name “Black Friday” in a more ironic context. Black Friday blacks out gratitude. The point of the above mini-rant is to help innoculate the reader in order to allow us to more fully explore and appreciate the concept of gratitude. It is good to do this on the holiday that was specifically designed to pay homage to this transformative, basic human trait. In my opinion, the beautiful feelings of gratitude need to be carefully pondered and savored over the remainder of the year and not abruptly cut short by the massive campaign aimed at us. We are encouraged to spend ever more money to satisfy our desire for ever more things.
Gratitude is a deeply felt emotion we feel when we allow ourselves to appreciate somebody, something, or some action. The etymology of the word places its origin in the mid fifteenth century from late Middle English and Medieval Latin sources. Examples of gratitude are the sincere feelings I have about the opportunity provided for me to share my thoughts on this blog and for the many kind readers who take time to read my posts.
As we go about our daily lives, we have the choice to complain or express gratitude. It’s very easy to find things about which to gripe. We commonly complain about the government, the price of things we buy, traffic on the highways, and even ungrateful people. On the other hand, we can discover things about which to express gratitude. The fact that we have a wonderful country, that there is an abundance of things we can buy, highways on which to drive, and the opportunity to meet new acquaintances give reasons for gratitude.
I used the adjective “transformative” above because gratitude can change our personalities. If we spend our days complaining and grousing about the weather, the neighbors, the government, the price of stuff in stores, and so on, others perceive us as complainers. However, if we go about the day affirming the kindness of strangers, how lucky we are to be alive, how thankful we are for the opportunity to work or express our creativity, others perceive us as grateful, positive people.
Gratitude is an aspect of our thinking that is independent of our objective life situations. Gratitude is something we allow to spring forth spontaneously, not merely forced by a sense of obligation. This means that gratitude is felt during times of sincere self-reflection.
The popular notion that we should feel entitled, cancels out the authentic feelings of gratitude. When we realize that some of the trust from other people and things we have in our lives were not earned, nor do we always fully deserve all of our bounty, gratitude springs forth.
If we stop and remember that we often take for granted most of what we receive each day on a regular basis, feelings of gratitude manifest themselves. We can take just ten minutes in the morning and another ten minutes at bedtime to contemplate all the reasons for our gratitude.
Each day, we can express gratitude through our words and deeds to enhance our attitude of thankfulness. Today is the day set aside for just such a purpose. Today is the day we renew our responsibility to ourselves to experience gratitude.
Have a grateful Thanksgiving Day.