This post comes just as Thanksgiving is arriving. This is one of my favorite holidays because it is completely centered around food and giving thanks (and I LOVE food!). The history of Thanksgiving started in 1621 when the Wampanoag Indians taught the Pilgrim colonists how to cultivate food. When the Pilgrim’s had a successful harvest after a harsh winter, the Pilgrims and the Indians had a celebratory feast. Thanksgiving has since evolved into a celebration where families gather and cook a monstrous meal while giving thanks to good fortune, whatever that may be.
Giving thanks and gaining perspective are closely intertwined. We’ve all experienced the stressors of life, that can alter our perspective. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are to have good health, supportive family and shelter.
In the past, I’ve been fortunate to have been able to join two medical missions to help impoverished residents in developing countries, most recently in a small village in Mexico. One of the reasons I love mission trips is because I always return with a renewed perspective on life. I witness families who are poorer than you can imagine walking down the street laughing and smiling, and I wonder how can they be so happy when they have nothing. But soon the answer is clear: they feel rich because they have a loving family and shelter (even if it is a straw hut).
Missionaries will talk about the adjustment period after returning home from a trip. There are a few weeks when it is really hard to comprehend the American culture. In America we whine and complain about so many silly things, and we want the very best material items. We show off expensive jewelry, electronics, purses and cars. It becomes quite easy to lose perspective on what is really important in life. To me, those things not only start with the basic human needs of food, shelter, safety, and health but also expand to include love and family.
This year at Thanksgiving, I urge everyone to give thanks for what they have and reset your perspective on what is important to you. It’s true that over time our perspective will be tainted by our culture. The challenge is to stop and remember just how lucky we are to have food, shelter, safety, health, love and family when we feel our perspective slipping.
Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving with much to be grateful for!