Halloween is over, November is here, and we are moving full speed ahead to the end of the year. Everywhere we look, we are reminded that Christmas is just around the corner. And for busy parents, that means we have a lot to do to get ready. The treat bags are still overflowing with candy, but the toy catalogs have started arriving at the house daily. Lists are being made — children’s lists of wants and parents’ lists of gifts to buy. Stores have long since moved past fall to Christmas. Trees are being decorated — either now or later — I’m not judging. Family photos are being taken. Cards are being ordered. Gifts are being planned. ‘Tis the season to be jolly. And I’m excited about it.
But there’s also Thanksgiving. And I’m thankful for it.
Thanksgiving doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. It’s hard to be sandwiched between the costumes and candy of Halloween and the sparkle and gifts of Christmas. As a child, I just didn’t appreciate Thanksgiving for the exact reasons I have come to love it as an adult. There it is, every November, the one day a year that reminds us to do what we should do every day — focus on gratitude.
According to Psychology Today, gratitude is “a recognition of value independent of monetary wealth.” In fact, research has shown that practicing gratitude not only brings temporary positive feelings, but changes the way our brains process emotions and events. Entire studies are now devoted to gratitude and the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of focusing on blessings. This isn’t surprising since we can all recognize a difference in how we feel when we focus on the good in a situation instead of complaining.
Of course, it’s easy to think happy thoughts when life is going well, but it isn’t always so easy when life gives us lemons. Choosing gratitude is still possible. Like anything else, it can become a habit. And that’s one of the reasons I love Thanksgiving.
The importance of gratitude aside, there are other practical reasons to be thankful for Thanksgiving. Here are three other reasons I love this holiday:
1. The food. Obviously, food is one of the highlights of Thanksgiving. This is the one day a year to eat some of my favorite dishes. We have certain recipes that have become so traditional for our family that I look forward to them all year long.
2. The focus on loved ones. Whether on Thanksgiving Day or for a “Friendsgiving” celebration, gathering with loved ones to celebrate our blessings (including each other) is such a treat! It allows us to spend time with people we may not see at Christmas or other holidays.
3. The absence of gifts. I’m no Scrooge, but I absolutely love Thanksgiving because there isn’t added pressure to find the perfect gift. The focus is on what we have already received.