Thanksgiving week and gratitude
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year because it helps me to remember the many things I have to be grateful for: my family, relatively good health, friends, job, religious freedoms (I should probably use more often), and too many other blessings to list. Not to mention the Thanksgiving meal, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and roast turkey!
It’s also the time of year I pause to reflect on the small moments throughout my life that have brought me profound joy and happiness. These moments are significant to me, but likely not remembered by anyone else; little moments of joy that transcended this forgettable, common life I live into what I cherish as an extraordinary life experience, probably, a lot like yours.
Not just a Celebratory Feast or Thanksgiving Meal
I remember with great fondness how many years ago a humorous comment I made at work caused uncontrollable laughter by all for several minutes; nobody but me remembers, but the memory still brings a smile to my face. More significantly, I remember the way I felt the first time I kissed my spouse, and the first time in my adult life I cried from pure joy, alone in a hospital nursery after years of fertility treatments, cradling my firstborn child.
My oldest memory of pure joy, though partially faded by time, is of me being mobbed by a bunch of puppies. But I still clearly remember laying on the warm grass, the feel of soft paws with tiny claws on my skin, the way they playfully pounced all over me, the play bites (They didn’t even hurt! I bragged to my father after); the tickle of wet licks that didn’t seem gross at all, even on my face, how the puppies yelped with delight that matched my own and their unique puppy smell which, even today, transports me back in time to a childhood, wonderful and less complicated.
Now, with grown children and grandchildren of my own, I marvel still more at all I have to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season.
Reflecting on Gratitude
As I, or likely anyone, reflect on their most enjoyable moments, it becomes clear that most were either with or made possible, by others. Anyone reading this has likely made possible countless moments of joy for others too, so on their behalf, here’s a great big thank you! You probably don’t realize how many lives you’ve made better by just being you. Perhaps we are at our best when we do kind things for others and it’s likely the purest form of gratitude we can demonstrate, to simply be kind to others.
There’s a video about a famous philanthropist, Chuck Feeney; after amassing a fortune, he dedicated his life to giving it all away to those that needed help. He pointed out that philanthropy (and kindness) feels good, but so much philanthropy is done posthumously; he’d rather feel good before he dies. Hard to argue with his logic!
Most of us do not have a lot of money to give away, but everyone can afford to be grateful enough to be kind. As one ponders all the great good so many philanthropists have accomplished and how grateful one ought to feel for the good things in their own life, perhaps these feelings can inspire each of us to do more.
Especially during a pandemic, so many still have less or are suffering physically, and emotionally, are lonely or struggling financially; anyone can do more by simply being a little better, a little kinder, and embracing the spirit of philanthropy more fully, which is, giving while expecting nothing in return.
Official National Holiday of Giving Thanks
Expecting nothing in return is not quite right, is it? Because one will feel better, even good, for having been more kind or giving, according to at least one successful philanthropist. And if this good feeling causes one to reflect a little more on all the blessings and moments of joy in their life like remembering puppies or being all alone in a hospital nursery cradling a miracle in their arms or, something else.
One is indeed richly rewarded and perhaps, the object of their kindness and generosity will, in turn, have a little more joy to be thankful for this week too.
Perhaps giving a friend or neighbor a Pumpkin pie?
Or, any treat, homemade or not. This time of year is a perfect opportunity to step outside one’s comfort zone to give a treat to a neighbor, friend, old friend, a co-worker, or someone you appreciate but cant make much time for. Just one treat/gift, for example, the pumpkin pie, a Thanksgiving dish that has been around for centuries which can easily be made or bought, makes a terrific gift anytime, but especially around Thanksgiving day.
A little history about this official holiday’s favorite dessert.
The first mention of pumpkin pie appeared in the English cookbook, The Forme of Cury, which was published in the 1300s. It was originally made with a crust comprised of flour, sugar, and butter. The filling was made from mashed pumpkins, milk, eggs, sugar, ginger, and nutmeg.
This delicious treat became more popular in America after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. The Pilgrims were surprised to find that the Native Americans had already been using pumpkins as a food source. The Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to grow their own pumpkins and how to make them into pies.
It became even more popular in America during the 1800s. The recipe was published in many cookbooks, and pumpkins were grown specifically for the purpose of making pies.
Today, this Thanksgiving holiday staple is often served with whipped cream or ice cream and is a favorite dessert of many Americans. Perhaps as part of your family’s Thanksgiving celebration, baking or delivering treats can be added to existing Thanksgiving traditions that, in addition to Thanksgiving turkey, can help create those warm feelings last a little longer than a nap.
Thanksgiving celebration, a national holiday history
The history of the Thanksgiving national holiday goes back to the early days of the United States of America. In 1789, George Washington issued a proclamation declaring November 26th as a national day of thanksgiving. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving holiday was first celebrated on this date in 1864.