The season of Thanksgiving brings opportunities for counting blessings. Looking back over the year and taking stock brings us to what is most meaningful in our lives.
Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving, wrote: “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
Appreciation of times of plenty help us realize what we can overcome.
Since that first celebration of Thanksgiving in 1621, the event was informally practiced. George Washington called for an official celebratory day of public thanksgiving and prayer. Third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, was of the mind that linking a national celebration to a higher power was out of place due to the separation of church and state.
Thanksgiving as a national holiday was officially proclaimed by sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln. Along the way, the holiday is claimed by all of us who set aside the day as special and who wish to bring people together for food and drink as a gesture of thanksgiving.
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
With a national holiday for counting blessings, both hosts and their guests raise the question, “What are you grateful for?” as they gather round the table. This time of reflection brings people together on a most positive level.
Gratitude is a healing virtue. It lifts the spirit of the one who feels it and the ones who hear the words expressing it. Research shows that feeling grateful helps to strengthen relationships of all types and contributes to an increase in overall happiness levels.
However, authentic gratitude as opposed to performa gratitude, is the only type that yields the above results. If it doesn’t feed your soul, light you up, or feel like a blessing, then it likely doesn’t pass the authenticity test. If you ever wonder why people smile, or even become emotional, as they show they are thankful, it’s because they are genuinely experiencing the feeling of gratitude.
Thanksgiving, as an action word, calls on us to give voice to our gratitude in a way that honors others. Whether you are hosting a Thanksgiving meal or arriving as a guest, being your etiquette-ful self will make the occasion better for all. And, thinking about people, now and back when, who have made a difference in your life can set the scene for others to catch the Thanksgiving spirit, too.
You can count on counting blessings to bring everyone together in a spirit of positivity.