Always remember the meaning of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, in my own words, is where friends and families celebrate thankfulness by getting together and eating a lot of food. We eat until it hurts, then we take a short break and have dessert, because there is ALWAYS room for dessert. (I feel like that could be America’s motto.) This is great, but what does this have to do with being thankful? Yes, I know we are all grateful for the abundance of food but what if we took the time to slow down, breathe and actually chew and taste our food, being thankful on Thanksgiving Day? It’s like the meaning of Thanksgiving has been lost. Everyone has forgotten what thankful looks like. So much so, that I don’t think we are even thankful on Thanksgiving Day anymore. Some of us are maybe thankful for a little while on Thanksgiving Day, but that eventually wears off starting at about 8:00 p.m. that night.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Black Friday shopping. Why is it that the holiday where we are supposed to be the most thankful, is followed by the greediest day of the year? Every year you hear about people getting into fights and getting seriously injured because of Black Friday shopping. Seriously, it is sad to hear about how a TV or purse is worth punching someone over, especially when you consider just hours before they were most likely gathered around a table saying they are thankful for all they have and don’t need anything.

I can remember sitting at a hockey game a couple of years ago watching a group of five women with flyers and ads spread across a table. They were mapping out the stores and strategizing when and where they were going to go that night. When did shopping become a sport?

I wish I could say that I have never been a part of this sick Black Friday greed fest, but that would be lying. I have been there Thursday night at 10 p.m. in line at the stores, looking for a parking spot all just because I “needed” to get those great deals. But honestly, I’m glad I went just for the observing aspect of it all. It is ironic when you think about it.

In America, most of us have everything we “need.” Yet we get caught up in “wanting” more and more stuff. Are we really even thankful on Thanksgiving Day? I am not sure, because if we really were thankful would there be a need to go rushing around on Thanksgiving night to buy more “stuff.”

How can you be thankful on Thanksgiving Day? And more importantly, how can you be thankful the other 364 days out of the year? I think there are three practical ways to keep this trait of thankfulness alive year round.

First is to live in the present. I have found that when I find myself drifting ahead to what’s coming up or the future I am not being grateful for the things today. Also, stop comparing your life to Johnny or whoever. You are not Johnny and will never be him. So, don’t be wishing you were someone else or someplace else.  You are you and where you are right now is the only thing that is certain. Live in the present.

Second, choose to be grateful even on those days when it seems there’s nothing to be thankful about.

There has to be something you can find to be thankful for even on the crummiest of days. Treasure each day; it is a gift from God.

And lastly, say thank you! We do not say this word enough and I think it is a word that wouldn’t be annoying if someone overused it, but no one does. Appreciate the generosity and kindness of people, even if that means just saying thank you for the person that opens the door for you. Say thank you! If you do go Black Friday shopping, at least be thankful for the clerks who give up a night’s sleep to feed your shopping appetite. By saying thank you, it is acknowledging that someone did something kind and unnecessary and you are appreciative of them for that. That is thankfulness.

Please try implementing these three practical ways at least for this next week.  Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read this.  (See, it’s not too hard.)

Kendra is an advertising major. She can be reached at [email protected]