Finding gratitude on Thanksgiving even if you're eating at McDonald's

I live within walking distance from a McDonald’s restaurant. Every Thanksgiving, I see this sign in their window. “We’re open Thanksgiving Day. 6 am to 7 pm.” I look at it and always think that it couldn’t be worse than having your Thanksgiving meal at McDonald’s. But as I walk away, I realize it could be worse….much worse. Plenty of people go without having anything to eat on Thanksgiving. What would they give to have their holiday meal inside, at a restaurant? They would be grateful.

A few years ago, I spent my Thanksgiving volunteering at a homeless shelter. After setting up the meal, I dined with some of the shelter’s residents. I wasn’t sure what I would find. Holidays are tough for people living in those conditions. It’s easy to be sad and depressed. What I heard surprised me. These people were happy to be having dinner together. It was much better than what they had before they moved into the shelter. They were no longer living on the street. They had a place to live and sleep. They were happy to be spending the holiday together and looked forward to the possibilities of their future. They were grateful.

The idea behind Thanksgiving is it’s a day to be thankful for everything in your life. The turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie are just a bonus. It’s easy to take all of this for granted. Tonight, when you’re dining on whatever is your holiday favorite food, take a deep breath and get in the moment.

Gratitude shows up on Thanksgiving. At your home, in a shelter and yes, even at a McDonald’s.

This post is part of the Faces of Homelessness series

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