The actual definition of Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States that commemorates the date in 1621 on which the colonists and the Wampanoag tribe shared a feast celebrating the Autumn harvest. There has been a lot of controversy regarding the accuracy of the retelling of this bit of history. Nonetheless we continue to celebrate it centuries later with turkey, family, football and feasting.

Why is Thanksgiving so important? The name kind of gives it away..Thanks giving. It is a day to give thanks and to celebrate gratititude. It is a day to realize the blessings you have and cherish them. It is a day to gather with family and tell stories. It is a day that is not focused on material things like gift giving. It celebrates positivity itself.

So, now that we know why Thanksgiving is important, let’s talk about the practice of it. How was your Thanksgiving? Did you celebrate family and what you have? Or did you bemoan the world in general, talk about COVID, and complain about what is not going your way? Our house was pretty peaceful and celebratory, but I am concerned that was not the norm or the majority for others. Do we still know how to be grateful and give thanks? Or is peaceful thankfulness just a distant memory for too many at this point? Sometimes I find it difficult to remember a time when the majority of people that I come across had at least one good thing to say or focus on. I am not asking for the world here. I am just asking to be able to start a conversation with someone that does not start with a complaint or some sort of discontent. I am guilty of it too at times. Most of the time, when someone asks me how I am doing I give my stock answer, “Living the dream!” I give this answer for several reasons: 1) I actually believe it, 2) I don’t want them to worry( there has been a lot to worry about lately), and 3) I know in my heart that most people don’t actually want to know. They are just asking to be polite. Other times I start rambling word vomit about everything that is going on or frustrating me before I can stop myself, even though I can tell immediately that the other person regrets asking by the look on their face.

I am not sure why I do it. I am basically a positive person and try my hardest to maintain that, even with everything that life has thrown at me lately. I really want to keep that going but even I fall into that trap that I feel like the rest of the world is in sometimes. So, I ask the big question again. Have we forgotten how to be grateful, positive, or happy? Is the norm of negativity so engrained at this point that there is no turning back? I hope not. I can tell you this though. If we don’t start looking a little harder for the things that give us joy and pushing aside the negative focus that is locking us in, the damage that we are causing to ourselves will be irreparable.

Dr. Katz

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