As another Thanksgiving comes and goes, we often find ourselves left behind with three things in particular: plenty of dishes, plenty of leftovers, and plenty of memories.
However, there is one more thing that also lingers, which we tend to overlook during such occasions. It is many times the elephant in the room when it comes to family gatherings. After seeing all the selfishness, fighting and political bickering, it is the looming question that we should all be asking, “Are we really thankful?”
Every year it is the same scenario. We gather at mom’s house or grandma’s house or our house or somebody’s house for a huge dinner, conversation, and togetherness. After all the pleasantries, usually the conversation goes to, “What I’m thankful for.” I mean, we say all the right stuff- but are we appreciative of what we have?
For a moment let us consider the word ‘appreciate.’
Much like the words ‘judge’ and ‘fair’, it is one of the English language’s most misunderstood and misused words. Contrary to popular understanding, it means neither thankful nor grateful. It actually means to “understand the value of’ or ‘recognize the full worth of.’ With that in mind, it is clear that most, on average, do not ‘appreciate’ who they have, what they have, or how good their lives are with either.
It would be nice to say I see love and appreciation most of the time; but I do not. I mean, are we paying attention? People are not nice. In fact, people are horrible to each other. Fighting over the pettiness, arguing moot points, bringing up past hurts and issues, insulting each other for no other reason than to make ourselves feel better. This is most families in many instances.
Unfortunately, we see the byproduct of these pseudo-relationships manifested during funerals and hospital room traumas. Individuals falling apart, exploding, and coming to blows in a situation that would be otherwise an occasion to gather close.
Divide and Conquer
In many cases, we allow those things that annoy us and frustrate us to divide and conquer us. Our focus then, has been based on the superficial, rather than on the essential. Imagine if new parents chose simply not to change their newborn’s diapers, solely because they were still angry from the crying! Sound ridiculous? It is- in both
Don’t get me wrong- these are the things that happen in every family. Competitiveness, sibling rivalry, etc. However, again, if the things that frustrate and annoy us so easily beset and divide us, how close were we in the first place?
Most of us are blessed beyond measure.
Not necessarily monetarily, but from a standpoint of what really matters to most. A place to live, a place to work, enough money to maintain a modest lifestyle, family, and friends that matter to you while you matter to them.
Too often it is the pressures of keeping these imperfect situations perfect that causes the strains, stresses and of course, the disagreements. As the old saying goes, ‘we should be able to disagree without being disagreeable.’ That means that there is nothing that two like-minded individuals should not be able to work out-if their primary goal is love and reconciliation, that is.
Ask yourself this question today. What is your goal? Coming together, or maintaining your right to be right? Are you thankful, not just for what you have, but who you have? 365 days from now, when you’re sitting around the
Thanksgiving table awaiting your “I’m thankful for…” turn, maybe you’ll first consider if you genuinely ‘appreciate’ all that you have.
Understanding this can clarify for you just how thankful you truly are.