Give Thanks This Thanksgiving and Mean It!

The turkey is the ubiquitous symbol of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The turkey is the ubiquitous symbol of the Thanksgiving holiday.

With November comes the falling of leaves; a nip of frost in the air and, the all-too-real possibility of snow on the ground. At this time of year, our thoughts tend to quickly turn to the nearness of holidays and end of year finalities. More specifically, we are likely to begin thinking in blitz-filled streams about all we need to get done, e.g., the putting up of decorations, baking of special treats and, the perhaps the most all-consuming agenda item--buying bundles and bundles of gifts for our roster of family members, business acquaintances, service people, close friends, and possibly pets. As we mull our seemingly never-ending list of gift recipients, we begin to go into a slow-churning panic as to how we will manage to get everything done in time for the big day or successive series of days.

Yet, getting caught up in the holiday frenzy before even celebrating Thanksgiving tends not to serve us well. It neither helps us come up with a master game plan for checking off all of our line items nor does it allow us time to reflect upon all that we have and all that we are so grateful for. Srsly...important to take a breather to ponder all that you are grateful for.

Thanksgiving is the holiday that allows us to take such an inventory before we are thrown headfirst into the glitz and glimmer of the holidays. Thanksgiving is the time when we can dial down our inner dialogues and turn our attention to genuine conversations (no cell phone texting at dinner) with friends, family members and/or people we like enough to share a meal with. Over the extended four-day weekend, between food-a-thons and ball games, why not give indulge in a moment or two of quiet reflection upon all that you have to be grateful for.

In Chicago and all across the United States, during the holidays-- a time when capitalistic motives surrounding the holidays have managed to eclipse the true sentimentality of the season--good folks can still be found who truly desire to give back and help those less fortunate and/or more in need of basic necessities.

In recognition, we give thanks to the food depositories, shelters, pantries and businesses that donate food items. We applaud the efforts of staff members and volunteers who seek to provide care, nourishment, and perhaps, most importantly understanding to those may be in a desperate need for all of that which has been previously enumerated. We express gratitude for the spiritual leaders who continue to offer encouragement, enlightenment and wisdom to all not just those who are struggling. And we give thanks (hence the word Thanksgiving) that we have so much---goodness, richness and light in our lives.

And, in seeing the shining examples of others, we can see the brightness in ourselves.

So, in short, when the turkey arrives to the table, why not ask yourself, "What do I have to feel bad about?" If the answer turns out to be 'nothing', well, then rejoice in knowing your life is good and is there is much to be grateful for.

If a shortage of dark meat or a lack of gluten-free options at your holiday meal are your biggest complaints or you are feeling saddled with obligatory duties, like having to sit and talk for an extended period of time with relatives whom you consider tiresome, then quite possibly your life is not that bad and, just possibly, it may be pretty darn good. So long as you have food, shelter and companionship, then you most certainly have considerable gifts to be treasured.

Perhaps they come wrapped up as blessings in disguise whereby you may have to look harder to see the true jewels that they are. But I encourage you to take a more introspective look to see all that you have that is worthy of sincere and unscrutinized gratitude. I trust you will find much to be thankful for this year and much goodness to cherish as you eat your cranberries and turkey giblets.

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