By the time you are reading this, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving, or will be nearly ready to have Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving has come to be one of my favorite times of year, not only because it is one of our greatest opportunities to get together with family and friends, but also because I have come to believe that being a thankful people is key to being a positive and happy people.
I am a product of the generation which grew to maturity during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Those were truly hard times, made so not only by the economic crisis in the United States which began with the devastating stock market crash in 1929, but also by the droughts which afflicted agriculture across the nation during much of the 1930s decade. Many people endured bankruptcies, many lost jobs and livelihood, many lost properties, and rumblings of world war were being heard in the Far East and in Europe. But at the same time I have always been impressed by the positive attitude of people who lived through those times, by how they discovered ways to survive hardships and make progress toward better days, and especially how they seemed to discern how they were blessed, even better than do our present generations living in more prosperous times.
I have noticed that people who grew up during the 1920s and 1930s often remembered the good times they had during their young years. They were not obsessed with the hard times, they were not focused on the difficulties and challenges they went through, they were not resentful of their trials and doing without. They were usually very grateful for the relationships and supportive neighbors and friends with whom they had shared those days. Finally, they were very thankful for the better days which eventually came during the years following World War II.
Over the years, I have had the experience of observing that many wealthy and prosperous people are not actually happy and grateful people, but often are unappreciative of others who may have helped them prosper, and may even be angry because they have had "bad luck" at times. They often do not fully enjoy the benefits of the blessings they have received, and may even resent that they have not been even more prosperous. I also have observed many people who have only moderate quantities of worldly goods, but who are bountifully happy and full of thanksgiving, and are able to thoroughly enjoy their blessings. So, my question became, "How prosperous must we become before we can begin to feel blessed?"
Our sense of appreciation and the feeling of happiness are not proportional to the level of our prosperity. Appreciation and happiness seem to come more from our state of mind and the attitude by which we live, not from the bounty of our successes.
As members of my generation look back on our own growing up years, we reflect that we were poor, at least in the sense that our families had very little money; but we didn't necessarily feel poor. We could discover that not all the things which add richness to the experience of living come from having money to spend. We could enjoy that new car, even though our new car might be 10 years old with some things on it needing fixing.
It is time to wish one another a Happy Thanksgiving! My wish for us all, at Thanksgiving time, is that we will discover and affirm that the great thing about Thanksgiving is not all the list of things that we may name as things we are thankful for; rather, the great thing about Thanksgiving is that it reminds us to be thankful. The attitude of being thankful opens up a rich world of experience and enjoyment. Living without an attitude of appreciation and thankfulness is a hollowness of spirit; a poverty of the mind, a gaping emptiness of the heart. What makes for a great Thanksgiving is not just the turkey and stuffings and feastings; it is not just the hilarity of a good time with family and friends. A great Thanksgiving is to become truly thankful.
Thanksgiving is not one of the biblical holidays observed as part of the Christian Year. One may not think of it as a foundational event for faith, at least in the same sense that Christmas, or Easter, and Pentecost are. But being thankful and observing harvest festivals of thanksgiving are very biblical. People whose lives are inspired and motivated by biblical outlooks have long believed in and practiced thankfulness to God, thankfulness not just as an occasional nice sentiment to show, but as a way of taking in the goodness of life, and a way of receiving, experiencing and responding to the blessings of living.
Let us be grateful, not just because we "should," not just because to do so is "nice," but because being grateful opens up our being to a fuller life.
Editor's note: Jerry Nichols, a native of Pea Ridge and can be contacted by email at email@example.com, or call 621-1621. The opinions expressed are those of the author.Editorial on 11/22/2017
Print Headline: It's time for Thanksgiving!