Thanksgiving Lost and Found

Every year I feel like Thanksgiving gets lost a little more.  As holidays go, it’s not the most “fun.” For people who like to eat, it is a big day for that.  But it generally involves 10 hours of preparation and cleanup, compared to an hour of eating enjoyment. And there are no presents, or costumes, or really cool decorations.  No reason to empty your pockets at retail outlets with 24 hour access and half-price sales. Maybe that’s why Thanksgiving’s getting lost.  It simply can’t compete with Christmas. Two radio stations in my town went to 100% Christmas music the weekend after Halloween.  Because over 50% of their listeners surveyed wanted it that way. As I searched Target for my favorite Halloween candy at 50% off, the store clerk next to me filled the shelf with Christmas decorations. Thousands of retail employees will have their day interrupted today by the fact that they have to be at work tonight by 10 p.m., or midnight at the latest. Thanksgiving, it seems, has become nothing more than the official kick-off to Christmas – the unofficial kick-off coming immediately after Halloween (and maybe ever earlier but for Halloween??!) I’m not a big fan of the holiday myself, I’ll admit.  As a vegetarian who sees food as a necessity rather than a pleasure, the day’s activities never appealed to me much. But, I would join a campaign to recreate the spirit of “thanks” and “giving.”  Because the activity of giving thanks is important enough to have its own day. I envision a day when people send and/or deliver homemade cards and food to...

Gratitude: It May Be Harder Than It Seems

My kids and I left the house about 9:30 this morning.  It was a beautiful 70 degree day and we had great plans. As we pulled out the driveway and started up the street, I saw that my neighbor two houses down had a yard completely full of stuff.  His stuff.  Apparently the mortgage company had moved everything his family had on to his front yard and changed the locks. I live in a nice neighborhood.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a view of all of a neighbor’s possessions on the front yard.  Times are hard for a lot of people. But today it struck me really differently than it has in the past.  I’ve been doing a lot of work on the practice of gratitude, and on changing the way I judge people. Judging others as not as good as me in some way has been a lifelong habit (I’m embarrassed to admit).  It’s not an easy one to break. But I feel like I made a real breakthrough today.  My initial reaction when I observed my neighbor’s plight was to feel really blessed to have what I have. I spend a lot of time giving gratitude for the people in my life.  For all things “non-physical.”  But giving gratitude for my “stuff” feels like it places too much emphasis on material wealth.  Today, I gave gratitude for my stuff.  Lots of gratitude. In previous days, I would have thought something like –  “how much of a pathetic loser can you be to go from a big house in a nice neighborhood to THAT?”  Today, ...

Some Days My “Self” Doesn’t Need “Improvement”

I have had a rough week. I lost my cell phone. I never imagined how inconvenient that would be. And I’m double mad about it because I’m 99% sure it’s somewhere in my house. I’ve been trying to feel grateful for the fact that my house is big enough that I can search it for four days without finding my phone. But, it’s been frustrating. I’ve wasted a lot of time obsessively looking for my phone. And, I get a lot of work done in the car on my phone, so I’m really feeling behind this week. You can imagine how I struggled to maintain my positive attitude when it took me the good part of the day to get a new phone. I’ll spare you the details, but I will share that it was my good fortune to be needing a new phone at a time when my service provider’s entire network was down for seven hours. I, and my three tired toddlers, had been waiting in the store (for the third time today) for about 45 minutes when it happened. You see, I had been looking for the lesson in my predicament, as I always do. What greater benefit was going to come from my adversity here? I was starting to think I’d finally been proven wrong. Maybe the only purpose behind my experience here was to torture me. Just then, three people walked into the store together. The very nice and patient employee behind the counter was helping a couple with a new phone. He explained to the newcomers that he would be with them just...