Practicing thanksgiving

Daily Reading for November 26 • Thanksgiving Day

According to an old Saturday Evening Post story, the Pilgrims had a custom of putting five grains of corn on each empty plate before a dinner of “thanksgiving” was served. Then those gathered around the table would each take turns picking up their grains and telling their family and friends about something for which they were thankful. “The practice reminded them of how the first Pilgrims were in such straits that their allowance was only five grains of corn per person each day,” the article said. “The Pilgrims had little, but they did possess gratitude.”

I find it interesting that the English word for “thanks” arose out of Indo-European words for “think” and “thoughtfulness.” Although I know there are times when I thoughtlessly say “Thank you” in response to another’s words or deeds, my sincerest expressions of gratitude are more thought filled. For example, over the years, I’ve made it a practice occasionally to stop and think of people in my past who unselfishly bestowed healing gifts of time, energy, presence, trust, confidence, truth, and love upon me. I then try to express my gratitude through hand-written letters, cards, emails, phone calls, visits, deeds, or donations in their honor. Recipients of these tokens have been relatives, mentors, friends, and even strangers.

Remember when the phrase “random acts of kindness” became popular? Many of these acts were very small, simple ones that made a difference in the recipient’s life. Professor Rudolph Arnheim tells this story about his lasting gratitude for one such kindness: “At a faculty reception, a British lady taught me how to tie my shoes with a double knot so that they keep tied more securely and still come apart in a jiffy,” he said. “Kneeling on the floor in the midst of the chattering sherry-sippers, she tied my shoes. I remember her twice a day ever since.”

From “Gratitude” in Healing Words for the Body, Mind and Spirit by Caren Goldman. Copyright © 2001, 2009. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Past Posts