My Disdain for Thanksgiving, and What I Did About It

Are you celebrating Thanksgiving or Thanksgetting?

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Photo Credit: Flickr/Ben Seidelman

By Jay Austin

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving has lost its luster in our family.

Today, many of us in North America will gather with family and friends to celebrate good times, good food, and maybe even some good football. Today, our focus is on gratitude.

My family’s Thanksgivings have evolved over the years. We’ve moved the celebration from house to house. The people have changed because of births, deaths, and divorces. Even our meals have changed to accommodate our vegan members.

The day has become a chore; the week before looks more like a long to-do list. There are emails to send, travel plans to make, and miles to drive. There’s food to buy and food to prepare. My dad and I love to work on our businesses, which means we don’t particularly enjoy interruptions to our work week. Thanksgiving is that type of mid-week interruption to us.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized my minor disdain for Thanksgiving.

The feeling didn’t appear abruptly. It was something that has festered inside over the course of several years. I had never encouraged myself to look deeper into what I was feeling, until now. But if there were ever a day to think about why I’m not thankful for Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving would be that day.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love my family, and I really love the food. That I could use this day as an excuse to see everyone in one place is fantastic! I didn’t even mind the commercialism or politicism of the holiday, or the fact that there’s plenty of misinformation about the origins of the day.

Instead, something much more personal made me turn against the holiday: we weren’t celebrating Thanks giving.

For years, we’ve been celebrating Thanksgetting.

“What are you thankful for?”

That’s the most common question as we surround the dinner table.

How do people respond?

When I answered that question, I would typically list off things like good health, opportunity, and the love of my family and friends. Sometimes I’d mention material goods, too.

Has it ever occurred to you that we are thankful for the wrong things?

Health, opportunity, love, material possessions. Those are all things we get. When we list out what we’re thankful for, we tend to think of the things we receive.

What if we changed our answers from what we get to what we give?

Are you celebrating Thanksgetting or Thanksgiving?

Today, someone will ask me, “What are you thankful for?”

I’m sure I’ll naturally think about things that are “mine,” like health or love or food. But I’ll catch myself. After all, giving thanks is an attitude, and we have the power to change our attitudes.

Instead, I’ll force myself to think about what I can offer the world.

Here’s a personal example. I’m thankful that I’ve got a passion for working with underprivileged families, and that I have the ability to communicate with them in a meaningful way.

Of course, I’m thankful for the things I’m given. I’m not ungrateful, and I express gratitude to friends, family, strangers, and customers 364 days a year.

But today–on Thanksgiving–I’m giving thanks for what I can give to others.

This story was previously published on The Good Men Project.

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