It is so important to say ‘thank you’
Updated: December 25, 2011 8:15AM
Thanksgiving evokes similar images each year; it sparks familiar conversation. “Where are you spending the holiday?” “Are you cooking?”
We talk about what we’ll eat, and envision the spread of the food on our table – the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and endless pumpkin and non-pumpkin desserts. Pre-Thanksgiving discussion may even include lamenting with friends about the time we’ll spend in the car traveling from one family dinner to another, or the relatives we’ll have to spend the day with. Why do these aspects of the holiday seem to take precedence over its original meaning? Is food what we want to be most “full” of on Thanksgiving? I believe we spend too little of the day being “full” of what is truly important – the giving and receiving of “thanks.”
As a mother, I relished Thanksgiving projects coming home from school when my kids were little; I cherished seeing performances reenacting the first Thanksgiving. We took genuine parental pride in watching our children “get” the real message of the holiday. How about the time we took with our children to ingrain in them the simple importance of saying “thank you” on a daily basis?
How many adults do you know who actually pause and take time to reach out to one another in thanksgiving, holiday or not? How many calls do you make on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to simply say, “Thank you. Thank you for what you mean to me every day of every year. Thank you for being such a special and important part of my life. Thank you for being there for me.”
Could you imagine the long-reaching positive effects if more people stopped to perform simple gestures of gratitude? Could you imagine how much more “full” our Thanksgivings could truly be if we incorporated more words of thanks along with more eating and more traveling? Talk about paying it forward. I’d love to see those images and that conversation become part of the annual tradition. Imagine the example we’d further set for our kids about the importance of showing gratitude, of stopping to appreciate those who make a difference. Is this mom expecting too much? I don’t think so.
I pause in admiration when I hear of someone spending their Thanksgiving at a soup kitchen or otherwise giving back to show gratitude for the blessings in their lives. I have a few good friends who send out beautiful Thanksgiving cards. I wish I took the time to do that. I know I can make the time to say the words, if not get to the store to send the words by mail.
Today, I hope that we are all truly filled with thanksgiving, and then a bit lighter for having shared the thanksgiving with those we love.
Lake Forester columnist Maria Malin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org