A Thankful Heart
I am an American who loves to celebrate holidays. It was not until I moved to France that I realized how much I appreciate a few specific celebrations.
Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that officially is not celebrated as a day off here in France. In fact, on November 28 while Americans back in the U.S are gathering around tables with family and friends, the French will be working as normal.
Don’t feel too bad for them….they have plenty of days off and national holidays.
I grew up loving Thanksgiving for the traditions associated with it:
Annual cross-town rivalry football game
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (which I was fortunate to attend one year!)
A large family gathering and delicious home-made feast (which interestingly has been referred to as the one day a year Americans eat as well as the French!)
Watching American football on TV later in the evening with leftover turkey and pies
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!
Traditions are nice and I do miss many of them while living overseas.
While at times it has been difficult, it has also provided an valuable lesson about the true meaning behind holidays…especially Thanksgiving.
At its core, Thanksgiving is about….well….being thankful!
Often this actually gets lost and confused in the scurry of activities, preparations and the food-induced comas resulting.
One tradition that has remained paramount for me is to share with family and friends each Thanksgiving just how truly grateful we are for the blessings we have. Often while enjoying a meal together we take a moment to share why we are thankful this year.
When we actually pause from the frenetic and chaotic drone of busyness to reflect upon this, we realize all the many reasons to be thankful. Jobs, homes, health, food on the table, etc… Even at times when health has not been present, individuals feel blessed by the love, care and support of family and friends. They are still thankful.
Of course we do know that many people in our world do not have what many of us do have. Even blessings such as food or a home, that I often take for granted, are insurmountable goals for millions of displaced and disadvangted people.
I believe part of being Thankful for what we have is also to recognize that not everyone has those same reasons…but there is something WE can do to make a difference.
As we begin to use our lives, time, talent, and resources to help others, we learn to appreciate what we have even more. Our thankful hearts grow bigger when we become thankful for opportunities to give back.
Even though Thanksgiving is an American holiday, may I suggest we practice a spirit of thankfullness each and every day?
Perhaps the next time you share a meal with loved ones or celebrate a beloved holiday in your culture, you may take a moment to go around the table and share the many reasons you have to be thankful.
For those Americans reading this, as we approach Thanksgiving the end of November, enjoy all of the fun traditions. Eat well, watch and play football, decorate the house and attend a parade. But remember to count your blessings, be thankful and look for ways in which you can give back so that others may be thankful as well.