Alison Wood

Alison Wood

Why giving thanks is more important than ever -Thanksgiving 2020

"Be thankful for what you have. Your life is someone else’s fairy tale." — Wale Ayeni

Thanksgiving - the custom of giving thanks for the annual harvest is one of the world's oldest celebrations and can be traced back to the dawn of civilization.

These days, being thankful is a way for us to focus on and appreciate what we have, rather than what we lack, and has been more important this year as we cope with a global pandemic. It's proven that when we are gratefuldopamine and serotonin are released improving our mood and making us feel happy; people who regularly express gratitude for the positive things in their lives are shown to be happier and experience lower rates of stress and depression.

The American tradition of Thanksgiving dates back to 1621 when the pilgrims gave thanks for their first harvest.  Nowadays, the American holiday is more a time to give 'thanks' for the country’s founding than a celebration of the harvest.

After 1621, it wasn't celebrated again until 1789, then Thomas Jefferson put a stop to it but in 1863 President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving.

In 1939, it was held earlier in November giving a much-needed boost to retail sales during the Great Depression. In 1941, Roosevelt made the final permanent change by signing a bill making Thanksgiving Day fall on the fourth Thursday in November.This year, Thanksgiving is on November 26

A well-known American Thanksgiving tradition is the Macy’s Parade which started in 1924. Macy’s employees donned fancy dress and paraded alongside decorated floats, live bands, and live animals borrowed from Central Park Zoo. They made their way through New York from 145th St. to 35th St. watched by a quarter of a million people. The parade was such a success, it became an annual event until the outbreak of World War II, but the parade started again in 1945, broadcast on TV, making it an important part of the Thanksgiving celebrations.

In England, days of thanksgiving have been important since the English Reformation under Henry 8th and in 1606 an annual Day of Thanksgiving began in gratitude for the failure of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot which is why we celebrate Guy Fawkes Day on November 5th.

We shouldn’t need Thanksgiving Day to remind us to be grateful; most of us have so much to be thankful for even in these days of uncertainty during Covid19 and here are some easy tips and ideas to show appreciation even for the smallest thing:

    • Thanking everyone who helps us - even if it's a simple act of holding a door open, the cashier at the supermarket checkout, the window cleaner.
    • Writing in a gratitude journal notebook - may seem a bit woo-woo but simply jotting down three things we are grateful for every day reminds us how lucky we are
    • Counting our blessings - at the beginning or end of the day, spending a few moments thinking about the good things in our life; friends, family, money to buy food, a roof over our heads (many people are not so fortunate).
    • Having your own Thanksgiving meal for your family and friends (restrictions allowing):
  • Thanking people in writing - who doesn't like to receive a letter in the post. There are so many pretty note cards available
  • Making or buying a gratitude jar ,  keep a pen and slips of paper handy, and as we think of things to be thankful for, write them down, putting the slips in the jar to review at regular intervals
  • Treating someone with a gift or a thank you card  it doesn’t have to be extravagant; the smallest gift or token is a lovely way to say thanks for a good deed.

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Virtual Assistance By Alison Wood