Are you grateful?

December 3, 2013

Here20499375_s in Auckland the pohutukawa are really starting to bloom, so it’s starting to feel like summer and that Christmas is coming. For you non-Kiwis the pohutukawa trees are often called NZ Christmas trees as they bloom in December.

Anyway, its not Christmas I am going to write about this week, but Thanksgiving, which is celebrated in the USA on the last Thursday of November. ( It is also celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October.)

As some of you know I have lived in both countries but it is the US holiday I am going to talk about.
I lived in California for three years from early 2006 and Thanksgiving was my favourite holiday and I’ll tell you why.

  • It is a public holiday and as it’s on a Thursday, most people get Friday off too.
  • It is a time to celebrate with family, as much as possible, so there are LOTS of people travelling. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is often quoted as the busiest travel day of the year. Whilst this isn’t true it is a very busy day.
  • You get to eat yummy food, often roast turkey with all the trimmings. One of the unusual ones for this Kiwi was brussels sprouts! Many of you are probably going yuk, but trust me, I had never had brussels sprouts fixed like I had on Thanksgiving.
  • It is cool if not downright cold, so it is a great day to eat all of this yummy stuff, unlike our summer Christmas!
  • There are Thanksgiving traditions but I never participated in any of these. Two are big parades eg. Macy’s n NY put on an enormous parade…Think the Santa parade on steroids! The other is watching football (gridiron or American football), either live or on TV as a family.
  • You spend time with your family if at all possible and if not, groups of friends get together. Many families get together at Thanksgiving but maybe not at Christmas.
  • Gratitude and thanksgiving. As it’s name suggests Thanksgiving is for exactly that…giving thanks. It is a time to demonstrate and articulate thanks for the good things in our lives particularly the non-material ones – family, friends, love, warmth, homes, good food are some of the popular ones. I just loved this and in all of the Thanksgiving celebrations I attended we did this around the table during the meal. One shouldn’t need a special day to be thankful for all of our blessings, but when there is a day at least you reflect and express it then if you don’t any other time of the year! For more information on the origins go here.
  • No presents!! I just loved this part of it. It seemed to me that there was more room for gratitude and good family/friends time when there were no links to gifts. You could just enjoy the company and the food without the anxiety that often surrounds gift giving. Gratitude is said to expand the heart and joy…it always felt like that to me.
  • Then of course there is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day in the USA! It is often described as the day that retailers go into the black! It is hectic and often dangerous! People have been known to be trampled to death in the rush to get the bargains! Great for  shopaholics though!

Take some time this week to reflect on what you are grateful for, not just what you want! What are you grateful for? Let me know.

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