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Thanksgiving is one of America’s oldest traditions, celebrated by people of all religions, political ideals, and economic status. For immigrants, it’s a veritable rite of passage as they acclimate to American culture.
And while enormous meals, all-day football games, and a barrage of Black Friday advertising often take the spotlight, there’s something even more important – and more powerful – that happens at Thanksgiving.
On the fourth Thursday of November, NO ONE is excluded. The widowed aunt, the grouchy grandpa, the coworker with nowhere else to go — all receive invitations to dinner on Thanksgiving Day.
Americans on the margins of society are included in the celebration thanks to the generosity of individuals, religious organizations and philanthropies that make sure the less fortunate among us have an opportunity to mark the day. Everyone has a place at the nation’s Thanksgiving table, regardless of circumstances or creed.
And that’s because the spirit of thankfulness requires that it be extended to others.
In the fall of 1621, 52 English men, women and children gathered together with 90 Wampanoag warriors for a three-day feast at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. The English were the survivors of the 102 Pilgrims who had sailed on the Mayflower the previous year. The Wampanoag were the indigenous residents of the land on which the English settled, without whom the settlers likely wouldn’t have survived.
This marked a 400-year tradition of giving thanks for all that we have and extending our gifts to those less fortunate. And gratitude offers a wide array of benefits in and of itself.
According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people. Gratitude also reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from anger and jealousy to worry and regret.
Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs, grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
And therein lies the true spirit of the holiday.
It is impossible to acknowledge your own blessings without acknowledging those that don’t have them. To be grateful for the roof over your head, you must first understand that many people don’t know where they’ll sleep tonight.
To acknowledge how blessed you are to have food on the table, you must first acknowledge that people in your own backyard will likely go to bed hungry.
To truly appreciate the friends and family who love and support you, it’s necessary to recognize that there are many who don’t have any kind of support system.
It’s been a tough year. We could talk about the tyranny that’s running rampant in our nation or complain about inflation, shipping delays, or the unjust mandates that have forced many to choose between bodily autonomy and a paycheck.
But we want to focus on how blessed we truly are. Despite the trials of the past few years, we still live in the most free and prosperous nation in human history. God has blessed this country in an unprecedented way, and He demands that we give thanks for those blessings.
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he says:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
We are grateful for our loving family. We’re grateful for our friends. We’re thankful for the staff here at TTAC. But we’re especially thankful for YOU.
This entire mission started so that people just like you might avoid the tragedy that my family experienced at the hands of the pharmaceutical-run healthcare system. Our goal was to arm you with the information you need to make the best choice for you and your family.
The love and support you’ve shown has been overwhelming. The long days (and nights) of hard work are worth it to hear the stories of hope and healing that you share with us each day. It’s why we do what we do, and why we won’t ever stop sharing the truth.
We hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving. We hope you show grace to those you disagree with, compassion for those who are suffering, and generosity to those less fortunate.
But we especially hope you’ll take a few moments to reflect on all that God has given us. We hope that when you put down your phone or close your computer, you’ll take some time to truly experience that gratitude that this holiday is all about.
We are so thankful for each and every one of you. We love you, and we hope that today will be a day of peace, love and joy for you and your families.