Gratitude begins with being thankful

"Has the practice of being thankful fallen out of favor?"

Halloween seems to have outstripped Thanksgiving in popularity. That was my observation when I went shopping for some Thanksgiving themed items a few weeks ago.  While I could have purchased all kinds of ghoulish merchandise, I had trouble finding cocktail napkins with an autumn motif; I might have even settled for a tacky package of Tom Turkey napkins if any had been available.

I have nothing against Halloween. I have always liked it, and I never could buy into the belief that the celebration of Halloween opened us up to evil. Little kids dressing up and collecting candy is just plain, good fun, and there is nothing inherently wrong in costume parties.  It makes me wonder, though, about our priorities when the focus on Halloween overshadows Thanksgiving. Has the practice of being thankful fallen out of favor?

I have a very simple practice that reminds me to be thankful on a daily basis.  Before meals, my husband and I say grace. We both learned the same prayer as children, and we taught it to our own children.  We can rattle it off, and sometimes, I admit, it is more pro forma than mindful. Occasionally, as I am about to take that first bite, I suddenly ask, “Did we say grace?”  Still, the habit reminds me to express thanks to God.

While my practice of saying grace is theistic, a member of our family has a different way of expressing thankfulness that may or may not be theistic, depending on an individual’s beliefs.  When we dine at this person’s home, we each take a turn to express gratefulness for something about our day.

I like this way of being thankful because it includes everyone around the table. No one is forced to sit politely and awkwardly while others pray, and everyone, regardless of the quality of their day, can think of at least one reason for gratitude. Equally important to me, this little ritual of thanksgiving requires intentionality: it forces me to scroll back upon the day and consider the good things in my life.  It increases my appreciation for those things that I might otherwise take for granted, and it refocuses my attention on the things that truly matter.

Gratitude does not stop at simply saying “thanks” for something that has made us happy on any given day.  Gratitude helps us to ‘get over our self’ and encourages a ‘pay it forward’ attitude. Grateful for the good gifts we have received, we want to reflect goodness back to others.  Whether we practice gratitude in a religious context or not, gratitude reflects a fundamental option for living that is directed outward.

A shopping excursion to buy some napkins led me to a casual observation, and prompted me to wonder if we have indeed become an ungrateful lot.  The feelings of happiness that we derive from external events, like receiving a gift, purchasing something new, being praised for an accomplishment, or even celebrating Halloween, are pleasurable and sweet, but they are not gratitude. Gratitude is a lingering disposition of the heart that delights in relationships, in the natural world, and in the consciousness that there is more to life than meets the eye.

Trail resident Louise McEwan is a freelance religion writer with degrees in English and Theology. Her blog is Contact .




Just Posted

Firefighters extinguish early-morning blaze in Rossland

Neighbour alerted family of four, no injuries reported

Senior curling provincials setting up for exciting finish

Standings tight as Senior curling teams push for provincial playoffs

Nominations open for Trail-Warfield Citizen of the Year

Award presented annually for a person or group with an outstanding record of community service

Fashion Fridays: Must have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

B.C. police watchdog clears officers in fatal hostage situation outside Cranbrook

A woman died from carbon monoxide poisoning after taking two minors hostage last fall

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Most Read