Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, hands down. The other holidays all have their draws but for me, nothing can compete with the simplicity and honesty of Thanksgiving. Of course, I love the food. We are all about tradition in our family. The roasted turkey, the family recipe for cornbread and sausage dressing, mashed potatoes with too much butter and sour cream, and the rest of our side dishes and desserts have changed very little over the years. There is something comforting and centering about a meal that doesn’t change, but the greatest part of Thanksgiving isn’t the food.
Prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions after harvests and at other times. The Thanksgiving holiday’s history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. However, regardless of how or where it started, as President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”. A day of thanksgiving. A day set aside to make sure we remember to be grateful for what we have been generously given.
That’s what makes Thanksgiving special for me. It is a national and formal opportunity to celebrate gratefulness. Gratefulness is central to recovery. Some people are in recovery from substance abuse, while others are recovering from process addictions, but everyone needs to recover from something. It may be life taking an unexpected turn for the worse, or the wound received at the hand or tongue of another. Perhaps it is unfulfilled expectations, people letting us down, injustice, or the general lack of equity in the world. We all have trauma and wounds that need to heal.
Gratefulness is to those wounds like an antibiotic ointment is to a cut. Once the salve is spread over the cut, it doesn’t make the wound not have happened. The ointment doesn’t make the cut heal instantly. It doesn’t make it hurt less. But it helps in so many other ways. The nature of the salve keeps out dirt and bacteria that would make the cut worse. As an antibiotic, the ointment kills the germs that are already present and greatly reduces the possibility of infection. Also, by keeping the wound clean and soft it allows the skin to regrow and heal faster.
Gratefulness is the antibiotic ointment for the wounds we receive in our mental and emotional flesh. Gratefulness keeps the debris of the world from getting in and spoiling our contentment. Gratefulness kills bitterness and resentment before they can take hold and cause decay. Gratefulness keeps our spirit soft towards others so we can forgive and heal relationships.
Gratefulness is like love. It can’t be saved up and kept. It has to be given and spread around. The more you give gratefulness, the more you have to give. Telling others what they mean to you, thanking people for the things they do, and focusing daily on the things you find to be grateful for will increase your gratefulness. The practice of making a daily gratefulness list is central in recovery and the result is becoming aware of more and more things to be grateful for each day.
I encourage you to take some time this Thanksgiving to do just that, give thanks. Thank your friends and family for all they have done for you. Thank someone who serves you food or bags your groceries for their help. “Thank you” is a magical phrase for both the giver and the receiver.
As for me, I am grateful for so many things my list is too long to write out. At the top of my list is you. I am grateful that I get to do life with you. I am grateful for the unique viewpoint and experience you bring into the life of our community. I am grateful for your character, your hard work and your commitment to those around you (which includes me.)
I am grateful for you, and in my prayers I give thanks to God that you are here and that you are The Kimray Way to me.
P.S. I am truly thankful for you, but don’t ask for a bite of my pumpkin pie ‘cause that ain’t happening.