“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”—Henry Van Dyke
Thursday, Nov. 22, is Thanksgiving Day. It will be a little different at home this year. Some won’t make it to our traditional feast of roast turkey with all the “fixins.” We will miss them. But we are still deeply thankful for undeserved grace, for blessings too numerous to count, for family and friends who, gathered or not around our table, I know are one with us in spirit and love. That’s what matters.
Thanksgiving Day is an American holiday. Because we lived many years in the United States, we learned to love it and embraced it as our own. We moved often and every time we did, I made sure I packed my huge roasting pan. Soon I needed two. No matter, from coast to coast, we gathered as family and gave thanks.
We say this every year and we say it again. Why is it only on this second to the last Thursday of November that we search our hearts and reflect on how blessed we are? Why is it only then that we look up to Heaven and acknowledge our dependence on Him who gives us everything we need, every breath we take? Should we not thank Him every day?
“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you”?—William Arthur Ward
Atmosphere of love
I never thanked my parents for bringing me up in an atmosphere of love. We were not wealthy, but we were never wanting. I know they often had to do without so my sister and I could have enough. It must have been pure anguish to keep us safe during the war. I don’t remember thanking them for teaching us, by word and example, about honesty, integrity and character. How do I thank them now?
Do we thank the teachers entrusted with the early education of our children? How about the yaya? Who cooks your meals, cleans your room, washes your clothes? Who drives your car? The waiter who serves you at a restaurant, do you thank him? Or is it enough that you leave him a tip?
We are quick to grumble when someone crosses us. When things don’t go our way, we lose it. Someone else is always to blame. It is never our fault. Heads roll. But when all goes well, we take the bows.
When it is smooth sailing, we get all puffed up and take credit for being excellent navigators. We ignore the people who trimmed the sails and worked on the vessel to make it seaworthy. We forget that it is a Divine Hand that keeps us on course and on even keel. Do we ever thank Him? Or do we remember Him only in rough waters?
We are quick to jump on the bandwagon to join those who criticize our law enforcers. We tear down our men and women in public service because it is the popular thing to do. Perhaps all they need is a little appreciation, a word of encouragement or a show of faith. We all do.
The last time I was in Honolulu there was a campaign underway to make people aware of the young men and women risking life and limb in Afghanistan. It was “Say Thank You to Your Armed Forces Week.”
One afternoon I saw a young man waiting in the hotel lobby, wearing fatigues and standing next to his duffel bag. A couple approached him and said, “Thank you for what you do for our country.” The soldier was a bit startled. Seconds later he smiled and said, “I am happy and honored to serve.”
Honored to serve
He was still smiling when his bus arrived to take him to the airport. R and R was over and he was returning to active duty. But he had someone’s gratitude to take back with him. It must have made a huge difference to know he was appreciated.
Can we do something like that? Is it so difficult to say thank you to a policeman or a soldier? His life is on the line to keep us safe. Would we rather be distrusting and cynical?
Someone once wrote, “Thanksgiving is possible only for those who take time to remember. No one can give thanks who has a short memory.”
Who was with you when you hit rock bottom? Who helped you pick up the pieces of your life? Whose words rekindled your spirit? Who reached out and held you close when your broken world was dark and empty? Who made you feel you were loved? Did you say thank you?
In the United States, Thanksgiving is almost as big as Christmas Day. In Manhattan, the annual Macy’s parade sets the festive mood for the season. A few days later all eyes will be on the gigantic tree in Rockefeller Center. This year they will light it up on Nov. 28. This is as big a part of New York tradition as the ball that drops in Times Square at midnight every New Year. When the tree lights up, it declares to the world, “It’s Christmas!”
At our home, the Christmas tree is all lit up. Our capiz parol winks and twinkles above the front door. Kumukutikutitap! I love that song! It is so Pinoy! Paskong Pasko! I hear it playing and am at once deliriously happy to be home.
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving Day? My pastor says we should live with an “attitude of gratitude.”
What am I thankful for? Waking up to see another sunrise is in itself a miracle. I can see! I speak and touch, breathe and love. I am awed by the glorious colors of the sunset. I may walk slower, but I walk. I have friends and family whom I love and who love me. I am thankful for the laughter and tears that each day brings. My life is full.
How can I say “thank you”?
“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant. To enact gratitude is generous and noble. But to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.”—Johannes A. Gaertner