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How to make Thanksgiving an honored, year-long habit of gratitude



Katrina Fernandez - published on 11/21/17

Our "attitude of gratitude" becomes a powerful force, if we, like Scrooge at Christmas, work to keep it in our hearts all the year.
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Ebeneezer Scrooge, in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

If we were to keep Thanksgiving “all the year,” what would it take?

“Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve You as You deserve.” –St. Ignatius of Loyola

I love Thanksgiving, mostly because I love food, but also because it’s a holiday that doesn’t ask anything from us other than our gratitude. Gratitude breeds appreciation, kindness, and humility. You can’t have joy without it. Gratitude also cures envy and dissatisfaction.  

This Thanksgiving, my wish is to cultivate a spirit of gratitude throughout the year, following the example of the saints.   

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” – St. Ambrose

While it’s important to thank God for all our blessings, it’s equally important to make an effort to extend our gratitude to everyone in our lives. Even small gestures of thanks make people feel appreciated and, when practiced enough, make the thanks-giver more attuned to the kindness that abounds everywhere.

Thank strangers, thank service workers for good service, thank a friend for thinking of you, send thank-you cards whenever you receive a gift or when someone goes above and beyond. Thank your family and kids when they’ve done well. Thank a co-worker for being helpful. Never miss an opportunity to show your gratitude. Make saying thank you and showing appreciation your first duty in response to all acts of kindnesses.

“O God, grant that whatever good things I have, I may share generously with those who have not, and whatever good things I do not have, I may request humbly from those who do.” –St. Thomas Aquinas

Generosity is a manifestation of gratitude that can be expressed through works of mercy. True gratitude for all we have teaches us to appreciate how we’ve each been richly blessed. When we feel blessed and spiritually rich the natural inclination to share those blessings pours forth from us. Praying for those that have not, and giving of our excess is one of many ways we can express gratitude to God.

So, be generous in your words and deeds. Most especially, never be stingy with your prayers.  

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.” –St. Gianna Beretta Molla

It’s a truly a humbling experience to stop and take a moment each day and consider all the ways God works in our lives and how much of what we have is given to us solely through His providence. We merit nothing good and lasting without Christ. Repeatedly taking stock of our blessings, recognizing their source (Christ), and thanking Him for each and every one is an exercise in humility.

But perhaps my favorite thing about chronic gratitude is that feeling of joy and appreciation it cultivates for every moment we’re given. When overwhelmed by envy or dissatisfaction, when comparing myself to others, when I’m lost in my self pities and frustrated by my struggles it’s prayers of thanksgiving that transform my attitude.  

So, when you sit down with you family and friends to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. why not make a promise to extend the spirit of the day throughout the year? Here is a brief prayer to bring to that intention:

Lord, help me to remember, every day, the blessings you have poured into my life, that in my gratitude for your generosity and mercy, I might each day become more generous and more merciful in all of my dealings with others. Amen.

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