What an endearing time of year that Thanksgiving is. Elementary school teachers recant the Thanksgiving origins in which our mainland's original group of founding Pilgrims (allegedly) gave thanks to God that they made it by the skin of their teeth and wouldn't go to bed hungry that night. Over 200 years later we (sort of) continue the tradition by sharing with friends, family, or in my case, co-workers, several things for which we are currently thankful. Let's briefly explore what our good friends Merriam and Webster have to say on the subject:
thank·fuladj. 1) conscious of benefit received
It's always interesting to me how on most major holidays you'll find some people playing Christian but not so much the rest of the year...which, by the way, is not exactly what I'm writing about. For some reason, though, what really sticks out to me this particular Thanksgiving season is how many people are giving thanks for this & that, yet fail to acknowledge exactly who it is they are thanking, or from who they've received said benefits. If you're reading this and do not consider yourself religious and/or spiritual, then I'm especially curious how often during Thanksgiving that you hear somebody sincerely (as in outside of the annual Thanksgiving prayer) hear someone actually thanking somebody else for something they've received. (No offense, Christians, but we can't hide our subculture in which we so easily allowed ourselves to be sucked into. Of course we'll regularly hear someone thank God and perhaps even really mean it!)
It's one thing to say, "I'm thankful to my boss for giving me such a big raise" or "Thank you, mom, for buying me Halo (whatever version is hot right now)". But what about non-material things such as family or autumn? Do you think these things just "were"? Better yet, did you set the universe in motion? If so, why not have more autumn? How about material things for which we give ourselves credit? "I built this house with my bare hands and paid for it with my hard-earned money." If so, who gave you that money? How about that brain of yours that knows how to build a house or even to build your strength to begin with?
I'm not trying to proselytize anyone, but there are few supporting arguments that things just "happened" upon us. No offense, but you are not a magical genie who can blink your eyes and give yourself anything you desire. Everything you have was created by someone, by something created by someone, or by something created by something created by...well, you get it. Like it or not, there is someone to be thanked for something you have.
On a personal note, and because this is my blog, I'm going to share something I've been particularly thankful for this past year, or rather, someone (officially this coming Sunday). I've had the opportunity to enter into a relationship with a unique, beautiful, silly, compassionate, intelligent, and all-around wonderful woman of God clothed in humility. She blesses my life everyday and I do not deserve to call her "mine". I did not create her or make her who/what she is; hence, the reason why she turned out so well. Therefore, I would like to thank God (as in the one who sent His son, Jesus, to die and to be raised from death), because He created her, consecrated her, gave her to me, and prepared me to receive her. I would also like to thank my girlfriend for choosing me out of many others, for not walking away from me, and for making Him Lord in her life (thus becoming the person I'm so deeply attracted to to begin with). I've walked into something way too good for me to have concocted. God, and God alone, gets the glory. (Also, she is currently spending her first year as a teacher abroad, and I am excited to have her home for Christmas! You can read more about her journey here.)
Really, though, my point isn't that you should thank someone (though I really believe that), or even that you should thank God (although as Creator of everything, that is true by default). Seriously. It's up to you whether or not to ascribe thanks to anyone for anything. It's also up to you to choose your words carefully. Case in point:
grate·fuladj. 1) a. appreciative of benefits received; 2) b. pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated
For those of you who don't fit in the "thankful" category, perhaps this would be a better fit as it is dependent on nobody but yourself. However, the former is certainly more beneficial than the latter, in my opinion, and room can certainly be made for any of you who wish to make that transition. Nevertheless, if Thanksgiving 2010 isn't a time for all to truly give thanks to the source of the object for which we are thankful, then it is certainly a time to let go of tradition for tradition's sake and acknowledge it for what it really is in your life.