Wine may grow in value with age, but as I age, I appreciate more the value in all things.
The celebration of Thanksgiving has become more meaningful with each passing year. It is the holiday with attitude – a decidedly positive one.
Unlike other stat holidays that are to many just a reason for a long weekend and cross border shopping, Thanksgiving asks us to pause and reflect, gather and give thanks for what we have been given. It can bring about a frame of mind that can frame our words and actions in the days that follow and possibly for the rest of the year.
Unlike Christmas where the meaning can be lost in the frenzy of feasting and shopping, Thanksgiving remains comparatively simple though much thought and love goes into the preparation of a meal to share with family and friends.
It is a reason to gather and appreciate that which we have. It turns our thoughts and actions towards the needs of others – the homeless and others who struggle to stay warm each night and to keep food on the table.
Grace may be a prayer of thanks many of us will be saying before dinner, but it is also an attitude – a way of thinking and acting.
Thanksgiving is not just the giving of thanks. I divide it into “thanks” (or appreciation) and “giving.”
The thanks is in the appreciation of the gifts of our past, present and future. The gifts of your past have enriched your experience and shaped your growth. Think of the special people who have supported you through love, teaching and inspiration.
The gifts of the present are those that you have this day. One of the tragedies of every human life is that we don’t always recognize and appreciate the gifts that are in our hands at this moment. Both this moment and those gifts are fleeting.
The gift of the future is its promise – so rich in youth but still present in our later years and even at the end of life. This is what you give forward – the seeds you have planted, the good you have done and the love you have given. It is your gift to the world of the future. What can you give to others in the time you have left?
Thanksgiving reminds me to give. We give away . . . to others – not just the things we don’t need or can part with, but rather what is most needed by someone else. We give back . . . not just to those like our parents who have given so much to us but also to our community, to nature and to our world. We give forward . . . to our children, to the future and to others who may never be able to thank us.
The greatest gifts in our lives are not always obvious or appreciated when we have them, and they are not ours to keep. They are given in trust for us to give away, give back or give forward. And the greatest of our gifts is the love we receive and the love we express.
Davidicus Wong is a physician and writer in Vancouver, B.C.