I just got home from a conference where the word Thankful came up a lot, and in a very negative way. November is a month of forced thankfulness and it has made me think a lot about the feeling. Social media challenges have us expressing what we think of given certain parameters as we gear up toward Thanksgiving. On the holiday, many of us will be forced to claim something we are thankful for as we sit around the table. Kids will be coerced to create pieces about their thankfulness, likely these will be closer to honest than the dinner table conversations (my son’s project put my husband and me on the same level but gave grandpa and trains higher status). So why the fakeness?
I will always be quick to admit I’m not as thankful as I should be, but I am grateful. I say my “thank you”s, I send some of the thank you notes but not all of them, I encourage my child to always verbally express thanks for things given to him, but I’m not sure I’m doing enough. Thankfulness feels so directed toward specific actions and gifts, and though I am thankful for them, I feel like gratefulness encompasses more. I would rather be grateful for the people in my life than thankful for the circumstances that brought them to me.
Looking at things in terms of what I’m appreciative of (grateful) versus what I’ve been given (thankful) let me list what I’m thinking of this holiday season:
I’m grateful for having a job that lets me interact with and meet amazing people. I’m thankful my boss gives me freedom to try new things.
I’m grateful that I have the ability and time to take moments by the bay and relax. I’m thankful I’ve cultivated the skills to meditate and can focus on me.
I’m grateful that I am mom to an amazing little guy who I love like crazy. I’m thankful his first mom picked me to care for him.
I’m grateful that I have a fantastic partner in my husband. I’m thankful that he thinks the same of me.
It may just be a matter of semantics to differentiate between thankful and grateful, but I hold more value in being grateful than being thankful. I’m thankful for things I’m not grateful for, but not the other way around. As you gather with family, friends, or enjoy time by yourself this holiday, take a moment to think and decide for yourself where you stand. Know that I am thankful to have people reading my words, and I’m grateful to have people who value my thoughts.
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