Spiralled Edges: ‘Tis the Season to be Thankful
People in America just finished celebrating Thanksgiving, a tradition that is focused on being thankful for the bounties which they have received over the previous year.
I am frequently asked if I, as an American living in Britain, continue to celebrate Thanksgiving in my adopted homeland. Short answer, no. The reasons range from the simple to the more complex.
I tend to cook a simple roast dinner every few weeks anyway, whether it be a roast chicken, lamb, beef, or pork.
Being thankful is something that I try to focus on regularly, not just at harvest time.
The American Thanksgiving Day is just another day over here. It isn’t a holiday. My kids are in school that day, shops are open for business, and people go to work.
We already have Harvest Festival celebrations, though these tend to be more religious in tone and there is no one specific date on the calendar. Rather than focusing on it as a holiday to over-indulge in food, harvest festival celebration are focused on collecting dry and tinned goods that will be donated to local food banks, soup kitchens, or other charities that provide services to those who do not have enough to eat.
Come the month of November, you can’t turn around for all the reminders to be thankful, give thanks, and the like. I’ve seen blog posts and social media entries on 30 days of being thankful. Where people are very careful to make sure they don’t come across as being too commercially driven in their thanks, and they are especially careful to make certain they are thankful for “important things”.
Am I sounding a tad bit cynical here? Perhaps a bit.
I don’t believe that this feeling of being thankful, of expressing gratitude should only be expressed in the weeks leading up to a public holiday. On the other hand, I also don’t think it really necessary to sit and try to list “10 Things I am Thankful for” every night.
How about a balance? I’m all for balance in life. Where can we find a balance between nightly gratitude journal entries and only thinking about what we are thankful for one day out of the year?
I think that when our lives are out of balance, when we are focused too much on what is going wrong in our lives, we have a tendency to ignore the tiny little bits of goodness. Or, we think that they aren’t important enough to be grateful. Or possibly, we think that since it happens every day it doesn’t count.
How often are you grateful for an alarm clock that wakes you in time to get to work or school each morning? When was the last time you expressed gratitude for a working boiler providing hot water for washing and possibly heating your home?
I certainly don’t think about these tiny bits of my life each day, but I sure do notice when they aren’t in place. It’s not having a Pollyanna attitude about life though. Everything is peachy and I have no worries at all. It’s taking a few moments as often as you need to look at what is going right in your life, however small or insignificant.
Being thankful means acknowledging the hardships, and knowing that I am dealing with them as best as I am able. Sometimes, being thankful means realising that those hardships were a necessary step in my life to get me to where I needed to be.
You don’t have to do it every day. You don’t have to make a list. You don’t have to only include “important” or intangible things. But take a few seconds on occasion as you go through life to think about those little things you are grateful for.