Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. We have the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on what we are grateful for and share the day with people we love. And while this year presents new challenges – like how to continue being COVID safe while celebrating the day – it also offers new opportunities to express gratitude and feel joy for what we have.
I wrote this story fifteen years ago when my father “Jimmy” was alive yet the message continues to stay with me because it speaks to the mystery of life – that despite our many challenges and differences, there is much to be grateful for and we are all interconnected.
Wishing you a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving 😎.
A Story of Gratitude: How to Be Thankful on Thanksgiving and Not Just About Turkey
This year is especially meaningful for my family as my father and mother drive to New Jersey to share Thanksgiving with us. We are grateful that my dad is with us, because as he often says, “I’m damn lucky to be here…almost bought the store, and not just once!”
Thankfully, my father’s situation has improved and he is on the road to better health as he recovers from aspiration pneumonia and the complications of his illness. Now I watch this man I love find the courage to deal with life on new terms, one where he wears a “trach,” uses a feeding tube, and is dependent on oxygen—maybe for the long term but hopefully for the short. He shows gratitude for each new day: a walk around the neighborhood, a good night’s sleep, a visit from a friend, or the occasional sip of ice-cold water he sneaks when he thinks no one is watching.
There is amazing power in recognizing what we are grateful for. Recently, a few of my clients have expressed they were stuck in a negative mind-set. We talked about keeping a gratitude journal.
I’ve learned from the experiences of clients, as well as my own, that writing in a journal helps bring better energy and perspective to our lives. If you feel stuck and are not enjoying life as much as you’d like to, try keeping a gratitude journal, and see what shifts for you. Over time, you’ll see the impact that focusing on the things in life you’re thankful for has on improving your positive mind-set.
In addition, we know, based on research, that going into a state of gratitude helps us gain perspective, show up happier, and be more mindful. Mindfulness is the ability to tune into oneself and others and show up more centered.
My gratitude journal entry from November 25, 2007:
I was surprised by how much my mother needed my father in her life—any way she could have him. And by my dad’s courage to fight for his life, even when it meant putting aside his ego and living in a way, he would have never thought he could or would have to.
I was moved by my father’s courage and wonderful sense of humor during a challenging time. On many occasions when the nurse showed up with yet another needle, my father jokingly referred to himself as a “human pin cushion.” And when one doctor told him he had lung cancer and six months left to live, Dad walked out, laughed, and said, “Don’t think I haven’t heard that before—if I heard it once, I’ve heard it a dozen times.” Thankfully, the doctor was wrong.
I am inspired to give more to someone in need because I have learned that while I thought I was the one giving, I was really the one receiving.
I am especially grateful to my family, friends, work associates, and clients who supported me during this time so I could give to my dad what he needed and help him get stronger.
- Click here to read This Thanksgiving, Let’s Complain! by Jay Michaelson.
- Click here to read A Game Plan for Healthy Enjoyment of the Holidays by Peter Attia
- Click here to read Have the Holiday Crazies Set In? This Simple Gratitude Practice Can Help You Reset and Remember What’s Most Important by Gina Hamadey
- Click here to read Here’s How to Avoid 6 of the Most Common Sources of Holiday Stress, from Supply Chain Issues to Awkward Dinner Table Convos by Sarah Stiefvater
Gratitude opens the door to the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe.