It was October 1863 and the American Civil War was raging. The Union Army had turned the tide at the battle of Gettysburg, but at a cost of more than 50,000 American lives. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation formalizing our annual Thanksgiving Day celebration, partly to celebrate the hard-fought victory, and partly due to a woman named Sarah Hale, who for 36 years had been working to create the national holiday we know today as Thanksgiving.
As Thanksgiving has become more and more commercialized, the word “thank” has taken a back seat to eating a lot of food, taking naps, watching football, and getting ready for the holiday shopping season.
It’s so easy to focus on what we don’t have rather than take the time to be thankful for all the blessings in our life. I’ve made it a habit to take a few moments as I awaken and as I go to sleep to thank God and the Universe for those things that make my life complete.
My Wife - She is my soul mate, my best friend, my business partner, my life partner, and the one I want to spend time with every day.
My Children - I’m so blessed to have two sons and a daughter who make me proud every day. They’ve turned into good people and responsible adults and I love spending time with them.
My Health - I’m fortunate to be healthy, but also take the time to exercise, eat fairly healthy, and do things in moderation. Life is difficult for those with health challenges whether they be the result of lifestyle or genetics.
Family & Friends - While we don’t have a huge family, I’m thankful for my cousins and in-laws and the friends who are there through thick and thin. As I read somewhere: friends are the family you choose, so be sure to choose wisely.
My Work - Had someone told me I’d be selling a moose with blue hooves at this point in life, I’d have looked at them askance. But Marvelous Moosey has become a passion that keeps me energized every day.
Of course, there are literally tens of thousands of other things to be thankful for and this time of year especially is a good time to focus on them. Your list might look very different from mine, but the goal is to remind ourselves of the plethora of bountiful things in our life we can truly be thankful for.
- Love - The Beatles said it perfectly, “All you need is love.”
- Our Freedoms - Without getting political, America is by far the freest country on earth and for that I am very thankful.
- Clean Air & Water - Not everyone in the world has these and it depends a great deal on where you happen to live.
- Failures - What, be thankful for failures? Yes, because without failure, there is no success.
- Sunshine - Sunshine not only makes us feel good, but supplies much needed Vitamin D. Plus, it grows the food we need for survival.
- Healthcare - While our system needs much improvement, think how far we’ve come in the last 50 - 100 years.
- Pets - Whether it’s a dog, cat, parakeet, gerbil or outdoor squirrel we feed, having animals in our life is a blessing. Except for snakes, my wife hates snakes. She’s not thankful for them!
- Literacy - While many in the world are unable to read or write, Americans, for the most part, are literate. Nothing better than snuggling up and reading a good book.
- Technology - As little as 25 years ago, computers were still a thing of the future. Now we even have smartphones that give us the ability to find information almost instantly.
- Naps - I do love to take naps.
- The Seasons - Spring, Fall, Summer, Winter. Those are how I rank the four seasons by favorites.
- Music - I love music and life would be much less interesting without it.
- Indoor Plumbing - Your grandparents or perhaps great-grandparents, had to go outside in the dead of winter to do their business. No thanks.
- Running Water - Can you imagine carrying buckets of water in from the well or stream for drinking or to take baths? Neither can I!
- Waze - While I love physical maps, thank God for Waze to plan our routes.
- Customers - If you’re in sales, you gotta have them!
- Rainbows - They’re a gift of vibrant colors and bring forth smiles.
- Inspiration - Listen to the inspiration that comes your way. It could change your life.
- Laughter - The health benefits of laughter are greater than any medicine on the market.
- Teachers - Although we think of them in relation to our children, teachers are all around us and not just in schools.
- Our Military - Sadly, there are a lot of bad people out there and our military helps protect us from them.
- First Responders - Be they police, fire or emergency medical technicians, our world would be a much more dangerous and difficult place without them.
- Grocery Stores - It’s hard to imagine life a few hundred years ago when food and other staples weren’t just down the street.
- The Ocean - It’s my happy place.
- Forgiveness - While we can’t always forget, it’s important to our mental health to forgive those who’ve done us wrong.
While Thanksgiving and the holidays are a great time to remember your blessings and say thank you, why not go further? Just before you get out of bed each morning, think of a few things you’re thankful for and ask God or the Universe to touch the hearts of those you’ll interact with each day. As you close your eyes, say a silent prayer of thanks for the day you’ve had and all you’ve learned. You might even want to start a gratitude journal and write down those things that make your life better and for which you are thankful.
Remember, there is no one in the world exactly like you. Never has been and never will be. You are a unique being and have a purpose in this life. Take time each day to be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and work to make your world a better place.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy