It should be one of the most sacred holidays for people - it's the basics of community, of trust building, and of family.
It is, however, a day that people dread - loudly sometimes - because of the weight of the day. So much cooking. So much avoiding difficult questions from family and friends. So much traveling. So much traffic and stress. So much worry. They dread the politics that will creep up, the ignoring of personal choices either of food or choice of living, the drudging up of old hurts and grudges... it's a long list.
Some just stay home, locked away for a long weekend alone with takeout food and a marathon of their favorite tv shows.
Some just go anyway, get into arguments, make more grudges and more hurts, and scream as they storm out.
Some volunteer their time instead of going to see the family they can't stand, and let their pain be a balm to others.
I'm not even going into the shopping. That's for another post.
Giving and Receiving thanks... how good are you at both? That's the real question. How good are you at saying, and truly meaning, "Thank you."? Most of us have meant that at least once in our life. Most of us are also really good at using that word sarcastically. This is less useful. We should do this every day - but if we can't, we should on Thanksgiving. It's a good time to start.
Giving thanks doesn't mean just for the big things. It means for the little things too. My mate often says thank you when I tell him I love him. I laughed once and asked why he was thanking me. He didn't take offense - he just smiled and told me he wanted me to know he appreciated my love, not just that he loved me too. I've adopted that habit, and I can see the smile all the way into his eyes. Try it - I bet you like the results.
Receiving thanks... well, that story works for this too. I wasn't used to being thanked for that and it got me thinking - there's a lot I'm not used to being thanked for. And not sarcastically thanked, but really honestly thanked. We, as a people, are bad at this, for as much as I find people are bad at giving it, they're worse at receiving. We don't believe people when they give it honestly, because we're too used to the sarcasm that usually laces those words like barbed wire. We shy away. We laugh because it's unexpected and we're caught off guard.
This year, make it your goal to breathe deep, relax, and really be honest about your giving and receiving. As you share that meal, smile more. Be thankful more. And say it more.