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Being Thankful

Thanksgiving isn't a day, it's a life.

I was raised by a mother who is a proficient Thank-You-Card-Writer. My Aunt is the Queen of the Thank-You-Card-Writers-Club. Each letter is like a tiny novella. Hand-written. Specifically personal. Highly thoughtful. I cringe with guilt at the fact that I am possibly the WORST person ever in the history of Thank-You-Card writing. I really should have turned out better considering my upbringing.

However, in my defense, I’m excellent at the verbal “thank you." I use it early and often. And when I say it, it is because I am truly thankful, truly moved. I am of the belief that really being thankful means just as much whether it’s formally written or graciously said. The form is less important than the intent. I know this makes me a high-risk etiquette candidate. I’m willing to accept the label and it’s a fair opinion. Maybe this New Year, I'll put "Work on Thank You Notes" on my list.

But, when a friend drops off cinnamon buns or surprises me with a mug from my favorite breakfast place, when my girls include me in their friendship bracelet circle or my hubby shows up from errands with an iced coffee, I am thankful. And I always let them know. A bigger gift, whether it’s Christmas or a birthday, doesn’t make me more thankful. For me, it really is the thought that counts. NOT the thing.

I consider myself lucky to have many special people in my life. This past year, for my 40th birthday, my husband had a copy of my book printed and bound for me. Years of work. Not published anywhere (yet). But there it was in my hands. I can’t put into words for you how much that thoughtful gift meant to me. I cried for a half hour while I thumbed through the pages. Remembering that moment, even now, still brings me to tears. I was humbled by his careful consideration. That he knows me well enough to sense the exact gift that would be perfect for me, was moving beyond words.

Giving is about being seen and understood. That’s why receiving gifts graciously and giving gifts sincerely, is so very important. You could even argue that it is even more important now with times so tough. 

Conversely, the things I do or give to others, I do because my heart is moved to do them. It’s not for brownie points or admiration. 

On Thursday, we’ll all be saying the right things. With varying levels of faith we will give thanks for family, health, and the feast. This is the typical checklist at our Thanksgiving dinners. But we can show people what they mean to us, everyday. Even the Grinch knows that sometimes the best gifts come without ribbons or bows. Whether it’s a smile or a phone call or a donation of our time; being thankful for what we have means giving ourselves. When we can. What we can. With no expectations.

Last year I wrote a column about my loathing for . (I can’t believe it’s been a year.) It’s ironic to me that the day of mass consumption comes hard on the heels of Thanksgiving. Remember, we need less than we have and can always give more than we do.

I am thankful for sunsets and woodstoves, baking pies and starry December nights, great in-laws and another year. You won’t find the things you need to fill you up all year round in a box store. The things you need are all around you. 

What am I thankful for right now? You, my readers, for both your time and your comments. This is my "Thank You" note to you, for reading and considering. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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