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Being Thankful at Thanksgiving

Gratitude

Gratitdude 365 Days a Year

I recently read a story about Charles Dickens and a lecture tour he did in America. The story goes that he told one audience that we here in this country are a bit mixed up. He said we should not have one Thanksgiving Day, but that we should have 364 Thanksgiving Days. The one day left over would be used just for complaining and griping; the other 364 to thank God. He said we tend to do the opposite. We complain for 364 days, and then, perhaps, on one day count our blessings.

That left me wondering; how many of us actually take the time to be Thankful even on Thanksgiving? Or do we get so caught up in the turkeys, pies, cranberry sauce and football to remember why we have the day off. Yes, the Pilgrims had a great feast with their new friends, but the reason they had the feast was to express gratitude. First, to God for blessing them with a great harvest, and also, to thank the Native People who had shared their knowledge and resources with them.

If your answer is no, or you are not sure if you show gratitude on Thanksgiving (or any other day) here is some incentives to change some habits…

Ten Years of Research Shows the Benefits of Gratitude

A growing body of research has tied an attitude of gratitude with a number of positive emotional and physical health benefits. A November 2010 article in The Wall Street Journal summarized the research:

Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy, or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly, and have greater resistance to viral infections.

Now, researchers are finding that gratitude brings similar benefits in children and adolescents. [Studies also show that] kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches, and feel more satisfied with their friends, families, and schools than those who don’t.

The researchers concluded, “A lot of these findings are things we learned in kindergarten or our grandmothers told us, but now we have scientific evidence to prove them …. The key is not to leave it on the Thanksgiving table.”
Melinda Beck, “Thank You. No, Thank You,” The Wall Street Journal (11-23-10)

So this year as you sit down to your feast, remember to be thankful, express gratitude for the blessings in your life, and then continue that gratitude for the remaining 364days of the year.

God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,
Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
It is a rare person who, when his cup frequently runs over, can thank God instead of complaining about the limited size of his mug!     —Bob Russell

Give Thanks

Give Thanks

What is Thanksgiving?

What is Thanksgiving?  Is it turkeys and pumpkins, Pilgrims and Native Americans? Is it a big feast with family and friends?  Well those are some of the elements that accompany our celebration of Thanksgiving, but why did the Pilgrims have this celebratory feast with their new neighbors? Why do we still celebrate this holiday each year?

What many of us think of the first Thanksgiving was not really the first Thanksgiving at all.  Evidence of harvest celebrations are shown in the worlds oldest civilizations, and records of harvest celebrations have appeared in Cultures all around the world.  It is very likely that the the Pilgrims got the idea from their Jewish brothers and sisters and an ancient celebration called Sukkoth dating back more that 3,000 years. I came across this great article by Martha R. Gore. I believe it explains the connection with great clarity.

Thanksgiving: A Festival with Hebrew Roots

Ancient Israelites Celebrated the Harvest by Observing Sukkot

Festival of Sukkot in the Bible

Thanksgiving for the Hebrews is described in the 16th chapter of the Book of Leviticus in which God commands the ancient Israelites to observe the Feast of the Booths—in Hebrew, Sukkot, “to rejoice before Adonai your God” at the time of the fall harvest [16.11]. Writing in InterfaithFamily newsletter, Rabbi Elias Lieberman, explains that, “In the Jewish tradition, the Festival of Sukkot is a joyous occasion to give thanks and praise to the Source of Creation for the bounty we enjoy.” During this time, Jews erect a sukkah, a harvest booth, in which they eat their meals.

The Sukkat or Harvest Booth

The sukkah is a temporary structure, hung with fruits and symbols of the harvest season in which they eat their meals and sometime sleep during the festival. Its roof is thinly covered with branches, admitting sunlight, starlight, wind and rain, a reminder that the precariousness of existence in the face of the forces of nature. The sukkah is also a powerful reminder of the many reasons for all to feel grateful to God, not the least of which includes that during the other 51 weeks of the year blessings that there is a solid roof on homes, clothes to wear, and food to eat.

The Pilgrims and Reminders from the Bible

The Pilgrims shared the first Thanksgiving with Native America Indians in 1621 with three days of feasting in spite of often contending with illness, meager rations, disappointed hopes, and death. The hard winter before the first Thanksgiving had restricted some settlements to daily rations of food per person per day which was five kernels of corn. In memory of those times, some settlers put five kernels of corn on each plate at their first Thanksgiving feast.

The thread that runs from the Israelites in the wilderness to that of the Pilgrims and the harsh years they experienced while striving to put down roots in a new land. The Pilgrims were people of great faith, who like the Israelites about whom they had read in the Bible, were people of great faith who believed themselves to be sustained by God’s mercy an beneficence. That they should rejoice and give thanks at harvest time was as natural for the Pilgrims as it was for the ancient Israelites.

Rabbi Lieberman believes that “Thanksgiving and Sukkot come as a reminder that there is far more to be grateful for in this world than a bounteous crop. Both of these holidays encourage all to stop and acknowledge the manifold blessings God bestows upon us each and every day.”

~This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to set some time aside to truly thank God for the many blessings in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until Next Time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:34

Thanksgiving and the Joy of Living

Live Daily With a Heart of Gratitude

In 1921 Pilgrims and members from the Wampanoag tribe came together to give thanks.  They were thankful for a good harvest, they were thankful for the freedom to worship God as they chose, and after such a difficult journey, they were thankful for each day that was given to them. A while back I was reminded of this in my own life, and I wrote about it in the book In Search of Higher Ground

My  good  friend Wes Beavis once said to me, “Chris,remember that the path you are on is a marathon not a sprint, it is a journey not a destination.” He was encouraging  me  at  a  time in my life where I was so  focused on tomorrow that I was not enjoying today. I must admit that I fall into this trap quite often. I will find myself so focused on the future, and as soon as the future becomes the present, I focus on the future again. It is a trap that robs me of the joy of life.  I must constantly be reminded by those  closest to me to keep reaching forward in the race, but don’t forget to enjoy it.

Remember, that although we want to obtain our goals to see our dreams become reality and to be known as a Higher  Ground climber, we must never become so busy with our futures that we forget the present. There are marriages that need to be nurtured and children who desperately need our attention. There are friendships that need to be cultivated, love that needs to grow, and joy that needs to blossom. Our Creator did not make us to be so over burdened by life that it robs us of the joy of living.

I am thankful for my wife and two children, who have a perfect way of lifting me to Higher Ground while keeping my feet on Solid Ground. My wife wants me to succeed, but never allows me to forget what really matters in life. She helps me remember what I always say to others,”No one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time at the office.”  Let me encourage you to keep reaching for Higher Ground, but never forget to water your own ground – the ground you call home, family, and friends. Water them with your love and affection, and your journey to the top will never lack the joy your life was meant to have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until Next Time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.
– Edward Sandford Martin