Pessimists see their lives as a glass as half empty, while optimists see their lives as half full. Thoughtful people see their lives as a cup overflowing. Thanksgiving is a celebration of all the good things God has showered us with, a time to thank our divine Gift-Giver.
For a graduate school course, I wrote a paper on “thank you.” Did you know that the word “thank” is derived from the word “think”? To thank someone means we are thinking of them and their kind act for us. When a person has done something thoughtful for us, the least we can do is to “think of” or “thank” them in return (especially if we are no position to return the favor).
Nowadays we often thank our benefactors via an email or a phone call. A more convincing way to express gratitude is to take the time to hand write a thank-you note. This entails finding a card and pen, putting a stamp on the envelope, and maybe making a trip to the post office. Good mothers make sure their offspring thank Aunt Sally or grandma for gifts.
What do you think when a person neglects to thank you for a gift or favor? You might feel that they didn’t like your gift … or that their mother didn’t teach them to be polite. You might wonder if your gift was lost in the mail.
My paper included different ways to say thank you, like “thanks a million,” “thanks a bunch,” and “thanks a lot.” There is a website to help write thank-you notes. It suggests how to word your appreciation and gives the structure of a thank-you note: http://ideas.hallmark.com/articles/thank-you-ideas/thank-you-messages/
Of course, our greatest benefactor is our Creator. The best way to thank God for the marvels he has done for us is to celebrate the Eucharist. The word itself means “thanksgiving.” At Mass we “think of” the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a memorial. We also express our thanks for everything.
We thank God in other prayers too. Here is a thought-provoking passage from St. Basil:
“In taking bread, give thanks to him who bestowed it; in drinking wine, remember him who gave you this gift to rejoice your heart and solace your ills. Once the meal is finished, do not fail, come what may, in the remembrance of your benefactor.
“When you put on your tunic, thank him who gave it you; when you put on your cloak, bear witness to your regard for the God who provides us with clothing suitable for winter and summer and so as to protect our life.
“When day is done thank him who has given you sun for the day’s work and fire to give light at night and supply for our needs. Nighttime provides you with cause for thanksgiving: when looking at the sky and contemplating the beauty of the stars, pray to the Lord of the universe who has made all things with such wisdom. When you see all nature lying asleep, adore him again who relieves all our weariness with sleep and restores the vigor of our strength with a little rest.”
Wilfred A Peterson in The Treasure Chest offers ways to thank God beyond words:
The art of Thanksgiving is thanksliving. It is gratitude in action.
It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly.
It is thanking God for your talents and abilities by accepting them as obligations to be invested in the common good.
It is thanking God for all that men and women have done for you by doing things for others.
It is thanking God for happiness by striving to make others happy.
It is thanking God for beauty by helping to make the world more beautiful.
It is thanking God for inspiration by trying to be an inspiration to others.
It is thanking God for health and strength by the care and reverence you show your body.
It is thanking God for the creative ideas that enrich life by adding your own creative contributions to human progress.
It is thanking God for each day by living it to the fullest.
It is thanking God by giving hands, arms, legs, and voice to your thankful spirit.
It is adding to your prayer of thanksgiving, acts of THANKSLIVING.
Happy Thanksgiving … every day!
It’s a good evening practice to look over your day and spot things for which you owe thanks. Recently I’ve given thanks that my sister’s broken leg and broken wrist healed without surgery, that the dentist said I had no cavities, that a friend gave me yarn to crochet baby blankets (the one here is really a bright, buttery, yellow), that supper was especially delicious, and that the Cleveland Browns were victorious over the Pittsburgh Steelers, their nemesis.
- What are you particularly thankful for today?