Thanks-giving, explained

Photo from Flickr user Another Pint Please...

They say 30 days makes a habit.

Thirty days of Thanksgiving feasting would leave many looking like Michael Moore during his “thinner” years.

Thirty days of Thanks-giving, however, can change lives.

With a stomach stuffed with turkey, green bean casserole, salad and the best cranberries I’ve ever tasted, it’s easy to be thankful for things in life. After all, we did just partake in one of the best meals we’ll have all year-long.

As we sat afterward, watching “Four Christmases,” I couldn’t help but look around the room. Eyes glued to the screen, except for the couple of cellphones whipped out by my brother and cousin, the world seemed still, quiet. Those few moments of quiet, gathered together just to be with each other, are something I’ll forever cherish.

Family matters.

Thanksgiving, as a day off for federal employees, was first started by Andrew Johnson in 1865. Franklin Roosevelt tried moving it to the third Thursday in November in 1941, before Congress intervened and established it as an “official” holiday on the fourth Thursday of the month.

Unfortunately, it’s with Johnson’s allowing a day off where we began to slowly take a wrong turn. Yes, the holiday has become commercialized, and yes, it has become more about the meal than most anything else. But it wasn’t always that way.

George Washington, in 1789, asked for the country to have a day of thanksgiving and prayer, for sheer grace of having peaceably started a new government, and for the people’s’ continued safety and happiness. It was a day intended for prayer and let’s face it, at that time, the safety of the nation was truly something for which to be thankful.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been humbled by a renewed faith, a fire that, despite some missteps, has burned bright. When I was driving back to my apartment, and as I write this, there’s a peace that comes if we take a few minutes and just pray. Pray in a quiet reflection, and take that moment of quiet to find some clarity, a direction for the future. It’s a chance to energize ourselves, and after a meal like tonight’s, most of us are going to need some energy.

Aside from family and faith, think of Thanksgiving as two words, not one. Give thanks. One way to give thanks, is to simply give. Time, advice, money, a phone call to a friend – there are endless ways to give. There’s a reason why we see so many charitable events at this time of the year.

Ultimately, it’s the lead-up to something incredible. Something that can only be formed by making it a habit.

In the next 30 or so days, we have the trifecta of holidays in Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Thanksgiving: it’s a chance to give thanks for the blessings we’ve seen during the past year, and to ask for guidance, strength and wisdom for the year ahead.

Christmas: this is a time where we can have the past year wiped clean, and we’re afforded the chance to start again.

New Year’s: this is the first day to test our mettle, and make a fresh start. It’s a chance to make ourselves better than what we are, a chance to grow.

We’re here for a reason, all of us are. Some have found that purpose, others are still searching, or may have only a faint idea of what theirs is. Regardless, there is no better time than now to sit, be humbled by the grace we’ve been given, and pray that we’re able to be better than we were the year before.

Today, we can take those first steps.

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