As with most people, the holidays are my favorite time of year. Thanksgiving and Christmas have always held a sense of wonder and excitement for me. As I get older, the magic that I experienced as a kid transforms into something more magical, and even more real!
While Thanksgiving has been an American holiday since the 1600’s, it didn’t become an official American holiday until Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863. I think it’s relevant to note that in 1863 America was in the middle of the Civil War — the bloodiest and most chaotic period of American history. Even during times of great sadness, violence and chaos, I find it a testament to our national character that we put aside time to be thankful. From the Civil War, to the Kennedy Assassination, to 9/11, Thanksgiving serves as a time to reflect, come together and to heal.
So long as I am walking, breathing and living on this planet, I can find a reason to be thankful. And so long as I am walking, breathing, living on this planet, and thankful — I can also give!
It is the combination of these words – “Thanks” and “Giving” — that act as our beacon for the holiday season. We all have things both great and small to be thankful for. Make time to express “thank you” to family, friends, colleagues, and even your community. Say “thank you” to anyone, or anything that exists in your life. By saying, “thank you”, you are also giving. You are giving of your gratitude, your appreciation, and your love. It’s in these exchanges the magic of the holiday season comes to life.
I believe something happens to the heart and soul when you open up to someone and say, “I am thankful for you”. Do it often and do it freely. If there is someone that you have lost contact with, and feel a void in your heart, now is the time to reach out. If there is someone that has left this earth and you can still feel their absence, surround yourself with loved ones. Maybe you’re in a position to give back monetarily to help someone. Or, maybe you have spare time this season to help a friend or stranger. Whatever it is, just remember that every season is a season to be thankful and a time to give.
I would like to wrap up with a quote from John Kennedy’s November 5th, 1963 Thanksgiving Proclamation — Signed just 17 days before he passed.
“Today we give our thanks, most of all, for the ideals of honor and faith we inherit from our forefathers — for the decency of purpose, steadfastness of resolve and strength of will, for the courage and the humility, which they possessed and which we must seek every day to emulate. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”