When my elementary school teacher told our class the American Thanksgiving Day story for the first time I was fascinated. She described that when the Native Americans noticed the pilgrims, these strange newcomers, struggling to survive they felt compelled to help them. As a result of following the natives’ advice the pilgrims were abundantly provided for.
Then the pilgrims, realizing that none of their success would have been possible without the natives, showed their gratitude by inviting them to share in the bounty. I was inspired by the loving and generous natives and the appreciative pilgrims. It was the world I wanted to believe and live in. It made me want to be more like the people in the story. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my parents.
I still enjoy this rendition because it makes me feel good about the world and the people in it. It inspires me to be generous toward everyone I meet.
The tradition of Thanksgiving, the autumn practice of giving thanks for provisions preceding the barren months of winter, has been practiced throughout the history of mankind among multiple cultures throughout the world. Regardless of their faith, race, or beliefs, they all intuitively knew that giving thanks for what they had would contribute more to their survival than worrying about what they didn't have.
Today I see Thanksgiving Day as a global reset button; a collective time out. It gets us to break the momentum of focusing on what we don’t have (with our non-stop striving to get it), and to focus on the good we do have. A break from the habit of pointing out what’s wrong with other people and the world, in order to appreciate all that’s right in the world. Science and psychology have proven the significant benefits gratitude has on our mental, physical and emotional health. I love when science catches up to confirm spiritual laws. The law is simple: what we focus upon grows. When I focus on all that’s good in my life, I attract more good to enjoy.
It was during the height of the Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national holiday of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." I believe Lincoln's decision to proclaim Thanksgiving a national holiday during the Civil War was an ingenious act to bring about peace. By getting us to focus on praise and thanksgiving, even if for just one day, the power of love would be free to fuel the desire for peace.
I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope your time-out is full of things to be thankful for. Gratitude is the key to happiness. When we’re happy our generosity flows freely and the world is wonderful place to be a part of.
Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow. –Edward Sandford Martin