As any ex-patriot knows there will always be a missing for bits of the old. Emigrating from the States, I miss my hot-fudge sundaes, the sound of snow shovels scraping against pavements of a cold New England winter and my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving or now more fondly called Turkey Day.
Thanksgiving is all about the fellowship of family/friends sharing the traditional turkey dinner. Everyone eating much as they can and then stuffing-in even more. I have fond childhood memories of being allowed to eat as much pie as I wanted. With a choice of Chocolate or Butterscotch Cream, Apple, Mince or the much sought after Pumpkin Pie I inevitably grazed on them all. Unlike Christmas, this holiday has a very different feel to it. Unless hosting the dinner there is very little to do other than to turn up, eat and lend a hand with the dishes.
Other than the discomfort of an after dinner waist line, what is it about this holiday, this tradition? What are we celebrating? For our forefathers, it was a celebration of Thanksgiving. The pilgrims with the help of the Native Americans made it through the first winter and with a successful harvest were thankful that this next one would be easier. In gratitude for support and knowledge shared in their new home they held a harvest feast inviting the Natives in gratitude.
Thanksgiving is a celebration of bounty and of thanks. Though like many traditions through time this essence has watered down and perhaps now, focus is more on a huge family meal, time off work, Thanksgiving Day football and Black Friday, the biggest shopping day in the year. The bounty has overshadowed the thanks. Though, however, we choose to celebrate, laced within this tradition is the essence of gratitude. For myself, it holds special fondness because of this core.
Living in England where no such holiday and missing the day, set me thinking. I could hold my own Thanksgiving, perhaps on the Sunday before or after. But the problem I envisioned was although friends and family would enjoy the day without tradition, this would just be a really huge Sunday dinner. Being the deep thinker that I am, I wanted the emphasis more on the thanks – giving rather than my turkey dinner.
So, it just made obvious sense that if there is no tradition over here it was time to start one. Thinking March is in need of a holiday, encouraging the return of spring, I settled on the first Sunday of March for my day of Thanksgiving. Dutifully naming it Thank-you day, the name is exactly what it says. A day of thanks.
My vision for this new tradition is about appreciating the essence of gratitude. We in the west have so much, giving us the luxury of moaning. While others focus on survival many of us focus on accumulation. With an imbalance on want rather than need we now find ourselves in turning tides. As the financial crisis changes the world around us it also changes our behavior. It is a time of developing awareness not only of behavior, choices and actions but in a very positive way drawing our awareness to the bigger picture as we stop thinking of me and start thinking of we. Which is a good thing.
So what does Thank-you day look like?
Remembering the essence is gratitude, what and who are we thankful for? I envision the people of Great Britain taking time-out to say thank-you to those who have added richness to their life. We are surrounded by the bounty of so many who affect our lives in positive way, whether a good friend, neighbor or someone who has just made your life easier, gave you the answers you needed or for unsolicited support. It is a day of gratitude awareness and of saying thank-you.
What I imagine is a new tradition with people writing notes of thanks – posting them or on the morning popping them through letter boxes. (Although more likely Internet thank-yous would be flying through the air). However expressed, our gratitude of unexpected thank-you will touch hearts.
Sitting here now, there are so many I could and would want to write. It is not about having to say thank-you but rather wanting to say thank-you. Enjoying the feeling of connection when we appreciate one another. For example, I could write a thank-you to my mechanic who has always looked after my cars. Has been a great guy both assessable and professional and made my life go that more smoother. Or my dentist for ability and skill or maybe my neighbors for being considerate as neighbors. As well the more obvious a friend for helping out through the year. Just a little note, nothing elaborate but one that offers appreciation of another. Our hearts become richer in the process.
The other part of the day is the Thanksgiving Feast with family and friends all joining together to share food. Maybe not the turkey dinner of recent Christmas past. It could be your own tradition formed. I like the idea of a pot luck meal. Everyone bringing a homemade dish of food to share. With the emphasis on the thank-you, it is a day of appreciation and celebration for all that is right within the world. Perhaps developing into community feasts, sharing with the less fortunate, taking away the separation and inviting the essence of gratitude.
We must never underestimate the power of gratitude for it takes down all barriers, opens hearts, reconnects and aligns us to not only to ourselves but to one another. Thank-you Day is a yearly reminder that we are all in this together and shares the light of the heart on a much bigger screen.
I believe that as we are all in this together, let’s choose change which reflects harmony, positivity and heart. Join me on my campaign. I can use all the help I can get to put this message out quickly. As you celebrate the first ever Thank-you Day, enjoy the lovely feeling of gratitude. As the heart opens, smiles abound.