Even here on the Gulf Coast, the distinct electricity of autumn is in the air. The temperatures are staying shy of 80°, the Golden Raintrees are wearing their pink bonnets, and the Bald Cypress along the river are flashing their burnt-orange leaves. While the fading heat is a signature pleasure of fall, the anticipation of coming holidays certainly adds a bit of crackle to the daily hum of these darkening days. Halloween decorations, from ghoulish to cutesy, herald the blinding sprint to the end of the year. Across the country, families are playing the familiar juggling act of pairing in-laws to varying holidays, with varying degrees of success! Between pie recipes, door-buster deals, and the 4th Trunk-or-Treat invitation, we often forget the meaning behind the fall and winter holidays. This brings us, graciously, to Thanksgiving.
Whatever your thoughts on the historical origins of Thanksgiving, its enduring legacy is thanks to that great uniter of our nation, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln called for a national day of thanksgiving in 1863, right in the midst of the Civil War. Reminiscent of the weary mother scolding her bickering children and begging for, “Just one nice family meal!”, the timing of Lincoln’s proclamation could not be more relevant to Americans today. Lincoln’s request was not so much that the warring states bury the hatchet for one nice family meal, but that Americans remember the virtue of gratitude.
Gratitude is good for your brain. It makes you more productive, happier, and even healthier. Gratitude is not toxic positivity. To practice gratitude is not to ignore the heartbreaking realities or everyday troubles of our lives. Indeed, the practice of gratitude provides us with the gravitas necessary to meet the inevitable tragedies we will face. By acknowledging our daily or extraordinary gifts, we see the depths of calamity more clearly. Gratitude grants us wisdom, empathy, and a greater capacity for forgiveness, all traits which shape a more harmonious mind, home, and community.
So, when the Christmas music starts on Thanksgiving day; or your children are bouncing off the walls with their third Halloween candy-induced sugar high; or your mother complains that you spent the last Hanukkah with your in-laws, give thanks.← Blog