Hopefully, some of us are focusing on thankfulness and gratitude this week. Most every conversation I’ve overheard has been food related. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about food. But I don’t really need a holiday to make that happen.
The Thanksgiving holiday is a great time to take a moment to notice how I feel about what I have. And not just how I feel about what I have, but what I’ve learned and experienced, and who I’ve known.
This became clear to me last night when I read an article celebrating a journalist with whom I worked 33 years ago. I was immediately transported back to how it felt to be surrounded by a quirky cast of larger-than-life storytellers.
It felt great. I hated my ad sales job, but I loved hanging in the newsroom listening to the banter. It took the distance of time to separate how I felt about the job from how I feel about the people. And recognizing that the feelings are the thing that stuck is instructive.
Without photos, I remember one pair of pants, one skirt, and one shirt I owned. I remember the house I lived in, but not my bedspread or where each picture hung. The things that stand out are people and events.
I don’t mean big events like trips. I mean things like a catfish in the bathtub, burning the furniture to stay warm, standing at a window at work watching cars slowly slide in the snow, learning to waterski with the kids, hugging my favorite customers, happy hour with friends.
Looking back, I appreciate each of those things in a different way than I did at the time. And I clearly recognize that what I possessed at any given moment has faded into the background.
As I practice gratitude this week, I’m using this insight to target people, events, and feelings rather than possessions. I will acknowledge my gratitude for the ease of having a car to drive to work, the feeling of security provided by food in the refrigerator, the warmth of a hug from the grandkids, the joy of watching them learn self-control, and the beauty of the sun through the palm trees.
I don’t know whether this shift in focus will change my experience of thankfulness and gratitude, but it feels like the right thing to do. If I’m given insight and don’t use it, I feel like I’m disrespecting something larger than myself.
Wishing you and your family the chance to make memories that help you feel safe, secure, peaceful, content, loved, and amused this holiday!