There’s giving in thanks

Dianne St. Jean

Another Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. Most of us think, “Great, a long weekend!” Nothing wrong with that. Who doesn’t enjoy a longer weekend?

It’s also traditional and acceptable to stuff ourselves more than the turkey, and basically overindulge.

Most of the time we don’t even think about the first Thanksgiving or the reason why it was established. At the dinner table we usually give thanks for family and the good things we enjoy, yet I believe that the reason for establishing Thanksgiving as an official holiday was intended to go deeper than that.

Thanksgiving celebrations began as an expression of gratitude, not only for provision, but also for having survived extraordinary or extreme circumstances, and in some cases, obtaining freedom.

We live in a country and part of the world that has, for the most part, enjoyed more prosperity, health, safety and freedom in comparison to the rest. On the face of this earth, those benefits are the exception, not the rule.

Recently, however, we have begun to experience a series of events that have forced a feeling of insecurity and instability upon us.

In this last year fires, floods and hurricanes took away so much from so many people, in some cases, even loved ones.

Then there are the human monsters who act with deliberate evil - those who drive vehicles into crowds, attack innocent bystanders with knives, or spray them with explosives or bullets.

Anyone can understand if people who have suffered loss by any of these or other events would disdain the notion of giving thanks. Yet, ironically it seems that those who have lost the most are often those who are the most grateful.

Those who are kind, who serve, sacrifice, and help others sometimes do so because they have themselves experienced some type of loss or suffering, and can identify with those undergoing the same.

Yet, not everyone who puts themselves out there has experienced a deep level of trauma; and that, I think, is where the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving comes in.

True thanksgiving is more than thanks, it’s also giving out of that thanks. Grateful people tend to also be giving people.

During this season, while we remember to be thankful for the things we have and the cherished people in our life, let’s remember to also give to those who have had people or things taken from them.

Let’s also show our gratitude to those who selflessly serve us - our volunteer fire fighters and first responders, community volunteers and those who run our food banks and safety shelters, government and NGO workers who assist those who have experienced trauma throughout their loss and hardship – by giving back, even if it is just a simple heartfelt “thank you!” the next time you see them.

There is giving in thanks.