Finding the Reason for Thanksgiving
Over the years, we’ve been taught many things about Thanksgiving. We’ve made and cherished a few hand-shaped turkeys, proudly displayed pilgrim hats, cheered on (or against) the Lions or Cowboys, and eaten our way through feast after feast of family favorites. But it is the image of hearth and home—bounty and joy—that illustrates the day, with celebrations revolving around the tenets of family, empathy, and gratitude.
Family is at the heart of Thanksgiving—the people who have shaped you, supported you, guided you, and reminded you of who you are as you do life. Sometimes, family is literally those with whom you share DNA or have joined in the fun by way of marriage, adoption, or ceremony. Sometimes, family is the group of friends with whom you have chosen to share your life. Regardless, family grounds us, tethers us to a material world and asks us to be responsible, accountable, and empathetic to someone other than ourselves.
We hear a lot about sympathy: we extend our sympathies in times of grief and tribulation; sympathizing when our loved ones, or even strangers, experience some form of misfortune. We share their feelings. Empathy, however, is the stronger force at play during the holiday season. As good citizens, as good people, we are called to understand the plight of those less fortunate. It is not enough to feel sorry for those around us, to extend some cursory platitude. Our calling during this season is to understand, and then to act even if we don’t share the same feelings or experiences. To give back freely from the goodness of our hearts. From this place of empathetic understanding, gratitude grows, flourishes, and emerges as the heart of the holiday.
Rooted in the very etymology of “Thanksgiving,” gratitude is the state of feeling appreciative of, and being affected by, a person, event, or thing in our life. But unlike the automation of thankfulness—the polite response to polite behavior—gratitude is a conscious act that takes practice in acknowledging that someone or something has had a profound effect on you. We can be thankful for that morning cup of coffee or the new toy we picked up on sale, but understand that we are far more grateful for waking up this morning surrounded by those that we love.
We are all grateful for different things and parts of our lives. And those will shift over the years as we grow and our lives change. But at the core, our gratitude focuses on those things that bring us joy, enrich our lives when it is at its best, as well as in times of need.
Every fourth Thursday of November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with a meal, family time, and a variety of other traditions. In keeping with the holiday, we’re sharing what makes us each thankful this season.
I’m thankful for family:
My husband of 35 years who continually loves and supports me. Both of my sons who make me so proud to be a mom, my grandsons who keep me young and laughing, my mom 83 years young and my mother-in-law 100 years young who both have infinite wisdom and advice. For my dad who is no longer with us who taught me more than anyone. For my stepdad who is no longer with us that showed me so much love. I miss them both terribly. My dog Bugsy for his unconditional love and excitement when I walk in the door. Do dogs ever have bad days? For all of my many friends who are really extended family. Mostly for the love of God.
Having family, friends and God in my life is a wonderful blessing. So many people today do not have these things in their lives and are very lonely as a result.
I am thankful for God and my family because they are always there when you need them, and they won’t leave you hanging.
I am thankful to GOD for my health, my family, and my job. They are all important to me because they makes me happy and allow me to be able to do all the amazing things in my life.
I am most thankful for my Wife and being able to celebrate our 2-year anniversary this year. I’m thankful to be able to do life with an amazing person who is committed to strengthening our marriage.
I am also thankful for family, friends, and church family who I have fun with and are an extra support system in my life.
I am additionally thankful for my job that I have had for three years and the people I get to work alongside.
I am thankful for dance. Not just the simple act of dancing, but to all that it (my training, my pursuit of, my experiences with, and my love for) has brought into my life: the people: my students, my best friends, my families, and numerous colleagues. The opportunities: developing my love and respect for teaching, my travels across the county and the world, the jobs (teaching and non-teaching), and the studio. My world view: how I see and react to and with the world around me always circles back to what dance has put in my path. My gratitude for dance is boundless.