What are your favorite THANKSGIVING traditions?

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  Thankfulness. Family. Food.  Seems like the perfect combination and the foundation for a utopic-type experience that everyone should look forward to all year around.  Reality?  Black Friday is over-shadowing our Thanksgiving holiday and the busyness has arrived in full swing.  My husband has been working extra hours to prepare for Thanksgiving, as well as the explosion of business on Black Friday.  I am anxious about the out-of-control caloric intake of carbs and the buzz of excitement as the Christmas lists get shared and the celebrations fill the calendar.  Even though it seems a little crazy and frantic, I still love Thanksgiving.  Around the Thanksgiving table, my dad asks the family a question.  “What are you thankful for this year?”  Secretly, I hope he forgets this tradition, but in the end I am glad that he asks the question.  This year I am ready for the question.  I am so ready!!

My parents encouraged me to participate in a study with them.  Internally chuckling, I agreed.  What could it hurt?  I was more than happy to indulge them in my willingness to participate, and even lead the study.  It was a study on the effects of one’s attitude on continued happiness and contentment.  Through reading the study and spending time thinking about the concept…finally!  I got it!  The key to JOY is THANKFULNESS.  At first, I was skeptical.  It can’t really be that simple.  So, I gave it a few weeks and filled my day and circumstances with THANKSGIVING.  Sometimes it felt forced and unnatural, but soon it became my way of thinking.  And yes, it really is that simple.  For sure, it was a reach sometimes to think of something.  When the kids were out of control, screaming and had apparently lost all recollection of any rules or instruction – I dug deep.  We were probably in the car rushing around trying to get somewhere on time and late as usual, which heightened the opportunity for panicked stress.  I found myself…yes, THANKFUL.  I was thankful that I was in a car that worked and was dependable.  I have had many days of having a car that wasn’t working or dependable.  We had been a one-car family in the not-too-distant past and having experienced those days made me that much more thankful on this day.  The kids and I even started playing a game to name things we are thankful for from A-Z.  Through the chaos I yelled, “What are you thankful for today?  Let’s start with ‘A’!!”  We soon were all laughing and thinking of both the silly and serious.  Change your focus and you will change your heart.  I shifted my focus and my heart followed into a place that is filled with joy and contentment.  I have finally found my happy place!  I found it inside myself and I am so excited to be able to teach my children how they too can find happiness and lasting joy.  What a beautiful season this is – THANKSGIVING!