Let’s Make Every Day a Thanksgiving

By Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust on Their Wings,” and two works of non-fiction, “Learning as I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See JeffMinick.com to follow his blog.
November 19, 2021 Updated: November 19, 2021

Thanksgiving is all about food, family, friends, and festivity.

Wherever people gather—Grandma’s farmhouse in Iowa, a condo in Jacksonville, or a small apartment in Atlanta—ideally, there’s the mouthwatering scent of cooking food, a lot of talk and laughter, and televisions featuring parades and football games. The kids kick a soccer ball around the front yard, tussle on the living room carpet, or play card games with Uncle John at the dining room table.

And before they sit down to the feast, many folks come together to express what they’re thankful for and why. This gratitude, and not the traditional turkey and dressing, makes Thanksgiving unique. From toddlers to octogenarians, all go around the room and give thanks for some treasure in their lives.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful and vivid reminder of the importance of feeling gratitude every day.

When we focus on what we lack instead of what we possess, when our wants take priority over our needs, our spirits sink. We become those glum people who are always complaining; who whine about their job, their taxes, or their love life; and who grumble and grouse that life isn’t fair. We become our own worst enemies, failing to see, if nothing else, that we’re alive and breathing, players on the stage of the mysterious tragicomedy of life.

For that alone, we should be grateful.

Wherever we stand on the totem pole of wealth and advantage, we can find something to be grateful for. In the 1934 folk-opera “Porgy and Bess,” the poverty-stricken Porgy sings:

“Oh, I got plenty of nothing

And nothing’s plenty for me

I got the sun, got the moon,

Got the deep blue sea….”

Porgy nailed the meaning of gratitude.

Sometimes we experience gratitude long after some event that seemed horrible at the time has occurred. We get fired from a job, struggle to claw our way out of the pit of unemployment, and find work that brings us great joy. Our mother dies, and we feel devastated by this loss, but years later, we’re grateful that she gave us the gift of herself in so many ways. Part of her goodness lives on in us, and we give thanks every day that we knew her.

Sometimes, we forget to give thanks for the familiar things in our lives. How many of us feel blessed to inhabit a country where liberty and choice, at least so far, are still the hallmarks of our culture? How many of us look at our spouses or friends and really appreciate the blessings they bring into our lives?

Here’s a personal example of gratitude forgotten: When I go to the grocery store, I’m surrounded by thousands of different products, goods, and foods from all over the world. If I so choose, I can buy soups made in Germany, corn from the American Midwest, shrimp from the Far East, and apples picked just 30 miles from my house. I live in a time and a place where I’m surrounded by treasures that would have once roused the envy of a king, and yet, I never think to give thanks for this bounty.

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around,” singer-songwriter Willie Nelson said.

Why not give Willie’s idea a shot and see what happens? We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving daily thanks for all of our blessings.

Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust on Their Wings,” and two works of non-fiction, “Learning as I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See JeffMinick.com to follow his blog.