Celebrating Thanksgiving by Thanks-living

As the Thanksgiving holiday draws near, perhaps like me, you’ve been digging around your kitchen searching for your special stash of recipes passed down through the generations. After all, no one makes the (fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite-Thanksgiving-Food) like Mom & Grandma & Great-Grandma did. I’m guessing (and hoping a little) that like me, you also have one of those messy kitchen drawers that features all sorts of odds and ends in it. Just like the fridge, the coffee maker and microwave oven, to me a home would not be a home, without a mixed up messy kitchen drawer. 

Much to my husband’s chagrin, (he’s neat–I’m messy!) mine has a multicolored mishmash of coupons, crayons, and birthday candles. It is also a landing spot for special things that come my way throughout the year. It’s kind of a confused filing cabinet brimming with stuff that I need and want to hang on to, but can’t think of anywhere else to put. Despite the clutter, I know I will always find whatever I’m looking for in that magically mixed-up drawer.

I mention (and confess to) my messy drawer today because in it, I came upon two surprises that came to me earlier this year: unexpected mail. They were both the loveliest, handwritten notes. After reading them, I saved them, and I spotted them neatly stacked in the kitchen chaos this morning like diamonds nestled among my rumpled rough.

These are not the kind of ‘thanks for a present’ notes (although I am a big fan of writing those myself) rather, these were simply written— just because… The two random notes were from family members who sat down to connect. There was nothing major happening at the time, no illnesses or life changing event. They just wrote to reach out. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a lot of these kinds of notes these days.

The first came from one of my husband’s second cousins, Amy, who I really don’t know that well, but look forward to getting to know better. She sent me the most beautiful card, and inside wrote the kindest, most heartfelt things after observing me with my nieces and nephews at a big family get-together. She brought tears to my eyes. It’s funny how people can spot what’s in your heart even across a crowded room. 

It would just so happen, that a few weeks later, I received another letter in the mail. This one, from my college aged niece, Makenzi. Her beautiful note exuded gratitude. While I won’t share the entire note with you, she did say, “You pick out the good from the bad, and I’ve heard the art of Thanksgiving from your lips.” Yes! She mentioned Thanksgiving, and I received this note back in July. She’s quite the young lady and she makes us all so proud.

I don’t mention these notes to sing my own praises. Rather it’s the opposite. I mention them because the authors touched me to the core. It’s not just what these special ladies wrote, but that they cared enough to write in the first place. They found time in between classes and children and their packed schedules to sit down and take a few minutes to do something special and unexpected for me. Sending a text message or an e-mail would have been easier, faster and cheaper. Instead they chose the old fashion way, the mail. I’m sure too neither of these women probably realized what an impact these simple notes would have on me. That’s the beauty of living a life of gratitude in action— it’s when you give of yourself, that you truly give.

In between basting the turkey, our second helping of stuffing and cat naps in front of the football game this coming Thursday, we will give thanks for our family, our friends, our freedom, our food, our faith.

Undisputedly, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reach out and let others know how much they mean to you. However, while the Thanksgiving holiday is one day a year, what if we worked to express the sentiment of Thanksgiving all year-long?

As I return my sweet letters for safe keeping to my messy kitchen drawer, I pull out my pen and paper and start to write. After all, the art of Thanksgiving is really about Thanks-living.

Shine on!