Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving. Thank YOU for not giving me a present.

Thanksgiving at my grandparents' circa 1970. I probably was not appreciating the lack of presents as much as I appreciate it now.

I love holidays. Give me a holiday, any holiday (except Columbus Day -- still don't really know why we get excited about that one) and I'm happy. I love the build-up, the planning, and the festivities themselves.

But Thanksgiving is my favorite, hands-down. Here are just a few reasons why.

1. NO PRESENTS. Don't get me wrong; I love buying presents for my family and friends. But I hate what seems to be a universal tendency to buy MORE and buy BIGGER and max the credit cards and not think about any of it till January. I'm certainly guilty of behaving that way, and it comes back to bite me every time. So Thanksgiving is perfect -- time with family, but no gift-related stress. People come empty-handed and leave with leftovers. Perfection.

2. Time to reflect. To me, Thanksgiving is the official beginning to the Christmas season; I don't know why, but as the sun sets on Thanksgiving night, the atmosphere changes. And because there are no presents and no mess and no "where's the receipt because I need to take this back," I really can just sit and think about, as they say, "the reason for the season." I keep my faith pretty private, but when it comes to God, I'm a believer and a big fan. And the fact that we're getting ready to commemorate the birth of God's son is a big deal to me, as it was, in my opinion, kind of a game-changer.

3. The food choices -- and not just because there are a lot of them. For someone like me, who's trying to keep a whole bunch of weight off, Thanksgiving can be all about some pretty healthy choices. Lean protein and fruits and vegetables are everywhere. If I want to eat healthily, I can -- unlike on Christmas, when I seem to succumb to every green- or red-wrapped Hershey kiss within a mile of my house.

4. A month-long universal good mood is just beginning. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, most folks seem pretty happy to be alive; people who don't usually speak to you manage a "happy holidays" when you walk by. And everything is pretty. Yes, it's cold out in most places, but snow is floaty and gentle and beautiful, especially when it's falling at night and you catch it just-so in the glow of a front-porch light.

5. Family, of course. Even if you don't always get along with your extended family, there's something about Thanksgiving that shines a light on the memories you all share and allows you to focus on the things you like and appreciate about all those people. (Come on; you know you love them.) And with any luck, they're able to focus on the things they can stand about you, because you're no party, either.

6. The opportunity to just be quiet and be grateful. Most of us experience moments of gratitude all year long, but Thanksgiving seems to make us want to take stock of all the things we appreciate.  And gratitude can't be overrated; as the late Maya Angelou said, Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.

I'm grateful for many things, including those who happen upon this blog every so often and find a smile or a laugh somewhere inside. I appreciate you, whoever you might be, and I wish you the opportunity to love Thanksgiving in your own way today.

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