So I had to look it up. What is the difference between being thankful and being grateful? My quick google research says being grateful is appreciating what you have. This is a most excellent pandemic practice in a society that continues to stress the need for bigger, better and of course newer...and did I mention you can have it all with a few keystrokes?
Thankful acknowledges what you have been given. Thankful encourages thinking of others. Google writers say it improves mental health and boosts self-esteem. Thankfulness involves empathy, an emotion that seems to be sorely lacking in 21st century America.
Theologians say we mortals are ultimately thankful to God, who provides it all, well all we need. One of our jobs as the recipient, is to give thanks. Thanks, with words and deeds. Church of course offers an opportunity to do both, to sing hymns of praise and thanks and, to walk the walk as we pledge our sponsorship of church and support of so many people we will never meet with the Alternative Gift Fair, or the youth sleep out.
Long, long ago at a church not that far away, a pastor I followed said Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday because it was everything Christmas was not. Not commercialized, not promoted months is advance, not about costly gifts purchased after a frenzy of shopping. And recently, a holiday hardly even mentioned at the grocery store.
Thanksgiving is about family. Family traditions, be it food, activities or stories. Too much to eat and too much to clean up in the kitchen, but a time of togetherness. A day to remember blessings and give thanks.
But then there is this year, COVID- tide as Hal says. A year of, well maybe not so much. Who will be at your table this year? Who is missing because of travel restrictions, hospitalization or death? Will you create multiple dishes and pies for one or two at the table? Will you haul the Christmas tree out if the family isn’t home to decorate it?
This year will be different.
But we still have reasons to be thankful. I’ll ask you to list a couple right now. I can list the election being over. A vaccine does seem to be on the way. Now, perhaps a thankfulness walk is in order. Can you remember something from each month for which you are thankful? What prompts do you see on your walk? Be thankful to have a safe place to walk, to be able to walk.
Are you Zooming with family? Maybe you-or the kids-want to dress up. Can you dress like a Pilgrim, or a turkey? Will your family dance like no one is watching?
Who will share memories of a first Thanksgiving? First with the new house, spouse, or the new baby? Share your family stories. Get out the photos. I’m happy to share a picture from a Plymouth member who sadly remain nameless so my missive can go out on Facebook. Let the little children lead us!
Perhaps you’ll share the blessing below from Rowsofsharon.com:
“Lord, some people have food and no friends.
Some people have friends and no food.
We thank you that today we have both. Amen.”
Look for the things you are thankful for this year, and do keep the faith.
Tricia is returning to the interim position she held between Plymouth directors Sarah Wernsing and Mandy Hall. After leaving the Plymouth staff, she served as director of Children’s Ministries at St. Luke’s Episcopal for four years. Read more.