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I remember as a very young boy being reminded by my Great-Grandmother that I should be grateful for all the good things that I had in my life. She made sure I said grace before meals, made sure I said my prayers before bed and to be thankful for food, my good health, a warm bed, for her, and all the other things that I sometimes took for granted. And, Thanksgiving was an extremely important holiday in our household. It was a day when I was given a pencil and paper and told to make a list of all the things I was thankful for in my life. So, I grew up thinking of Thanksgiving as a special day when people actually developed an attitude of gratitude and gave thanks for life and loves and health and abundance and all the other stuff that makes life grand.

Some years later I was able to place the “attitude of gratitude” into a whole different perspective. In 1995, I met a wonderful lady named Mary Hook. Her hip replacement was not working and she came to me to fix it. Upon examination, I determined that it couldn’t be fixed, it had to be replaced. She didn’t want to replace it. She said she been through way too much pain getting it in the first place and she didn’t want to go through that pain again. Long story… short version, I was able to rehab her hip, eliminate the pain, making further surgery unnecessary. Mary Hook was thankful beyond description. She and her husband, Jack, invited me to share Thanksgiving with them that year. I accepted and spent every Thanksgiving with them for the next five years. That first year, after the traditional meal had been served and everything put away, everyone was invited into the back yard and out onto the grass to stand in a large circle holding hands. Everyone just stood silently for what seemed to me a very long time until finally a young girl spoke up and started listing all the things she was thankful for in her life. It was very moving. Then, one after the other, each person in the circle starting giving thanks for their many blessings. I just stood there, moved to tears, listening to all, young and old voice their thanks for everyone to hear. It was very powerful. Then Mary Hook spoke. In spite of all she’d been through that year, she was the most thankful of all present. But, when she mentioned me as someone she was most thankful for, I was emotionally yanked back through 25 years of pain and I learned at that moment that being thankful has healing properties. A few moments later, I could hear my voice giving thanks for so many wonderful things in my life that I could now see and feel because I was no longer confused and focused on the things that had not or were not working in my life.

Today, Thanksgiving, 2006 is generally recognized more for being the holiday that signals the beginning of the Christmas Holiday shopping season more than anything else. In addition, it’s a day when we have given ourselves permission to be completely gluttonous with a clear conscious. They say, “it’s only one day…how can that hurt?” Some people spend the rest of the year trying to recover from the gluttony of that one day. But is this the true spirit of Thanksgiving? Where people spend their time complaining that nothing’s working for them, that there’s never enough money, nobody loves them, they’ve got rotten jobs, and life is tough.? No, it’s not! Without being thankful, it’s as if people are magnetized to get more of the same. Thanksgiving is a blessing. It’s a day that allows us to choose gratitude. Thanksgiving says, “no matter what happens, choose gratitude. If everything goes your way, choose gratitude. If everything just falls apart, choose gratitude.” Happy Thanksgiving!”

Mack Newton

Copyright Mack Newton. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of the author.