A time to give thanks
What are you thankful for?
Imagine a traditional Thanksgiving dinner scene. Members of an extended family crowded around the table. The food steams. Stomachs rumble. The prayer is said and then it happens. Some well-meaning family elder turns to those impatiently eyeing up the drumsticks and mashed potatoes and asks each of them to share what they are thankful for this year.
What are you thankful for? The question, on its own, should not be a difficult one to answer. Yet, as the aunts, uncles and cousins all take their turn, the challenge grows. There are the obvious and easy answers of being thankful for this meal or of being able to gather together after years apart. There is being thankful to spend another holiday with aging family members, it going unspoken that any chance to gather with them may very well be the last chance.
What are you thankful for? As that question works its way around the table answers may include: the birth of a child; a promotion at work; finding a new job after being unemployed; finding or renewing the love of their spouse or significant other; or celebrating the purchase of a car or a new home. All of these are worthy things to be thankful for.
What are you thankful for? Along with the more materialistic answers, there are those who will attempt with their answer to take a deeper dive. They may talk of the blessings of the Almighty; their faith in God; or overcoming spiritual or mental health hurdles. A cancer survivor may express thanks for a check-up showing the cancer remains in remission. Another person may be thankful for a successful surgery or that they are taking positive steps along their healing journey or celebrating each day of sobriety.
These are all equally worthy things to be thankful for and should be celebrated and shared in gratitude, even while potentially risking bringing a somber note to a joyous gathering by reminding people of the trials faced each day.
What are you thankful for? It is a challenge to not fall into the trap of seeing the act of giving thanks as a one-upmanship contest. “I’ll see your cancer recovery and raise you emerging from a car accident with nothing but a few bruises.” On the other end of the spectrum is the risk of being judged and relegated to the children’s table when your turn comes and you express thanks for defeating the “big boss” in your current favorite video game or that you got a new pet cat.
What are you thankful for? The question is a common enough one. It is easily answered if you stay close to the surface and stick to bumper-sticker level responses. At the same time, the question begs a deeper response and more than a passing thought. It is a question that is intensely personal.
Thanksgiving Day is an annual time to gather together and to reflect upon both triumphs and tragedies. It is a time to give thanks for our scars and fading bruises because they show recovery and healing. It is a time to give thanks for the lessons learned and achievements earned.
What are you thankful for?