Celebrate and Give Thanks

Even though Thanksgiving is a government sanctioned national holiday, the roots of Thanksgiving come from religious and cultural traditions in many forms. Almost all religions of the world have ceremonies of thanks to God and many are focused around the harvest season.

It’s good to consider that the origin of giving thanks comes from deep within the human heart and it is a natural response to a loving and gracious God. In the United States, we live now in time where some people would like to remove every connection between God and country. Sadly, today in Washington DC, Thanksgiving Day seems to be more about “pardoning a turkey” rather than giving thanks to a benevolent God who is the source of everything.

Even if we are suffering through illnesses, pains of all types and grief due to the death of loved ones and friends, if we just take a moment this day to wipe away any tears that we might have, we can see through our pain that there is still so much for which we should thank God.

Psalm 30:12-13 speaks to this: “You changed my mourning into dancing; you took off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. So that my glory may praise you and not be silent. O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.”

God has showered us with His gifts, beginning with the gift of life itself and listed below are some activities which can be a tangible reminder of our gratitude to God:

Go To Mass
Thanksgiving day is a great time to attend Mass as a family. The Opening Prayer for Thanksgiving Day Mass reads as follows: “God and Father of all gifts, we praise you, the source of all we have and are. Teach us to acknowledge always the many good things your infinite love has given us. Help us to love you with all our heart and all our strength.” What a beautiful way to start Thanksgiving Day!

Share Thanksgiving Bible Verses
Google “Thanksgiving Bible Verses” and you’ll get tons of verses to choose from. Ask each family member to pick their favorite and read it aloud before the Thanksgiving meal, then share why they chose that specific verse.

Have a Gratitude round at dinner
Have one person at a time thank each of the others at the dining table for something over the past year. This helps draw everybody closer together as each person shares their personal thanks.

Remember Thanksgivings Past
During Thanksgiving dinner, ask each family member to share a favorite Thanksgiving memory. Most of the times favorite memories can be the disasters of years past!

Gratitude is an important virtue. It helps us concentrate on the realities in our life–when we are grateful, it helps us focus on the blessings in our lives instead of the day to day irritations.

During this time of Thanksgiving it is easy for us to spend a day being grateful and fulfilled, but how grateful are we the other 364 days of the year for everything God has given us? So this year, we are going to challenge you to take the ‘attitude of gratitude’ beyond Thanksgiving Day and live it through out the year! And to get you started on your appreciation journey, here are some ideas:

Start a “Gratitude Journal.”
By taking time each day or once a week to write down the things for which you are grateful you can focus on those things that often escape notice but are so important. Being consciously grateful helps you discover what you take for granted–job, freedom, birds, the very air you breathe. The list of things we each take for granted can go on and on. Yet each of these things, no matter how important or mundane, is a gift from God for which we need to be thankful. Recalling all of the gifts that have come your way is fun to read later, and you can savor those special moments over and over again

Share a time of Thanks at mealtime
Another way to bring gratitude into your every day life is to have each person at the dinner table announce three things that happened that day for which they are grateful. In a family with young children this can range from the amusing (“I am grateful I didn’t have to sit next to any girls on the bus”) To the profound (“I am grateful I got to see Grandma today–she is getting old.”) But whether or not there are children in the family, the gratefulness discussion at meals can provide fodder for discussions and keep gratitude at the forefront.

Thanksgiving prayer at the end of each day
At bedtime each of us can spend a few moments in silence to reflect on our day and say a prayer of thanksgiving about the things we experienced during our waking hours. We are showered with blessings from God each and every minute of the day and night and it is right to acknowledge those blessings.

Use your senses
Use your 5 senses to concentrate of the wonder of the world around you.
Touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, and hearing help us to appreciate the miracle it is to be alive. Once we start noticing the small things around us, it’s easy to get out of our natural tendency to see what is wrong and instead focus on all the little blessings we receive daily

Use the original social media
Look for opportunities to thank people and tell them how much they mean to you. It is so easy to send a thank-you email or text or phone call, but the best way to show gratitude is to actually mail a hand-written thank-you card. The person who gets it will know you took the extra time and thought and they will appreciate your efforts that much more. Plus, you’ll get the added bonus of feeling grateful a little longer than usual as you write out each note. And who doesn’t like to get something personal in the mail, which is such a rarity these days? When you say ‘thanks’ be specific. Instead of using general phrases like “thanks for your help,” one of the best ways to show your gratitude is to acknowledge something specific about how they helped or what their help meant to you.

So this year, instead of November 26th being one day of Thanksgiving, have it be the first day of a year of thanksgiving.

I wish each and every one of you a happy and blessed day as we offer thanks together to our God.

“I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will declare all your wondrous deeds. I will delight and rejoice in you; I will sing hymns to your name, Most High.” (Psalm 9:2-3)

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Evelyn Bean

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