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Giving Thanks

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

On the last Thursday of November each year in United States, people gather together with their families to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Most generally travel to see their parents and grandparents and participate in family reunions and celebrate. It's a time to express gratitude. Thanksgiving is also celebrated in different parts of the world like Canada, and other countries at the same or different dates.

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, whereas there is no specific date for the Thanksgiving celebration in the United Kingdom. In some countries, most are not celebrated at all.

The main attraction of Thanksgiving is definitely the grand meal specially prepared for this occasion, which is enjoyed by the whole family together. Thanksgiving can also be celebrated volunteering in the Community services, as the Communities sometimes host special free dinners for the less fortunate people. In the New-York city area, a special Thanksgiving parade is hosted which draws thousands of spectators.

Food for Thanksgiving

The trademark food for Thanksgiving is definitely the Turkey. Thanksgiving meal cannot be completed without a large roasted Turkey, Pumpkin pie, Cranberry Sauce and Mashed potatoes. The day of Thanksgiving sometimes called ‘Turkey Day’ by the natives, and it is consumed roasted, Deep-fried or Baked. Ham is served sometimes alongside the Turkey, and Goose and Duck can be served as a replacement for Turkey. The other popular foods for this occasion are stuffing, dumplings, Noodles, corn on the cob, deviled eggs, green beans, peas and carrots, bread rolls, cornbread, turnips, apple pie, sweet potato pie, pecan pie etc.

History and Origin of Thanksgiving

The roots of Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1960, when a small ship containing 102 religious separatists sailed from Plymouth, England in order to find a new home for them. After 66 days, they reached the coast of Cape Cod but had to suffer in starvation and harsh winter of Massachusetts in late November. With the help of native Indians, they managed to bloom a full Harvest in the following summer, which is followed by a three-day celebratory meal. This three-day celebration is the first Thanksgiving dinner in history. The official celebration of Thanksgiving started on 19th February 1795 by the order of George Washington, which Abraham Lincoln shifted in November at the year 1863.

Today the celebration of Thanksgiving is more of a family get-together for the Americans rather that celebration of gratitude for the blessings of the new harvest. Anyway, for all the Native Americans, the fourth Thursday of November is unimaginable without family, football and turkey.

Being Grateful

We are blessed in so many ways. We might take many things for granted but we should stop and be thankful each and every day for each single person, things, challenge we have. They helps us be who we really are.

It's not an easy task for some to focus in what they have instead in what they lack. Due to constant challenges, depression and others, we forget that focus on gratitude is a very powerful tool to improve our souls. More than just act in a certain way for a brief period of time on Thanksgiving season may show a good behavior to those we love and appreciate, but truth character understands that Thanksgiving is a word of action.

We don't need much to internalize this principle, but Psychology studies show that the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful—benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike.

According to Harvard Heatlh Publications, here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis:

* Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person's impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

* Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

* Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you've received each day.

* Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

* Pray. People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.

* Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as "peace"), it is also possible to focus on what you're grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).

Thomas Moore says in "Care for the Soul":

"No family is perfect. It has an elaborate history and ancestry and a network of unpredictable personalities — grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles. Its stories tell of happy times and tragedies. It has moments of pride and skeletons in its closets. It has its professed values and its carefully constructed image, as well as its secret transgressions and follies. But recovery of soul begins when we take to heart our own family fate and find in it the raw material for our own soul work."

We’re all aching for a little soul work in this digital era. The family dinner table provides the perfect opportunity to work through matters of the heart, no matter how elaborated or simple the meal is: to struggle a little to connect but to grow in the process. Set the intention to act with love and kindness to each and every family or friend at your table. Yes, invite that lonely friend to join you.

Pour out your soul in thanksgiving in more family tables, all the days you can. Give thanks not only this day, but live with gratitude. As Melody Beattie so well said, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."

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