Thanksgiving: Remember and Celebrate

There are two simple actions we can take this Thanksgiving to cultivate gratitude: 

Remember and Celebrate. 

First, we remember that Providence has poured out goodness and beauty on the earth and we are recipients of the bounty. Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude says, gratitude is “an affirmation of goodness. We affirm there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received…(and) we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside ourselves”.

But, just remembering is not enough.  As our hearts overflow with the gifts of goodness and beauty, we are compelled to notice and celebrate the gifts in others. Gratitude splashes over onto people around us, then as they receive good gifts from us, they will begin to celebrate others and the cycle continues.  Gratitude is contagious! 

We see this concept in the vineyard.  During the grueling six weeks of harvest, everyone has worked overtime gathering the fruit that has grown on carefully tended vines for nine months. Once the grapes are all off the vines, the workers and winemakers breathe a collective sigh of relief.  The grapes are in!  The process from harvested fruit to bottled wine is much more controllable.  The end of harvest signals a time to rejoice and harvest parties are legendary!   You could call harvest parties Thanksgiving Feasts. 

Every harvest party is a reminder of Providence and a celebration of people. The stories at the tables recount the year’s weather challenges and the raised glasses toast the hard work of the people. There would be no harvest if there had not been sunshine or water…Providence.  There would be no harvest and there would be no wine if there had not been smart decisions and willing hands to manage the canopy, harvest the fruit and monitor the juice through fermentation…People. 

Wine depends on the gracious gifts of God (Providence) AND the hard work of people.  Providence without the action of people produces wild grapes, suitable for birds and compost.  People without Providence have no grapes…nothing with which to produce wine.  

Both people and Providence are necessary to make wine. 

And, so it is with gratitude.  Both remembering and celebrating are necessary.  Just like the Harvest Party, Thanksgiving is a time to remember and recount with gratitude the acts of Providence in our lives AND celebrate the work of the people.

When I raise my glass at our Thanksgiving feast this year, I will remember with gratitude the gifts of Providence – the beauty of fall colors, the love of a child, a peaceful heart, the kindness of a stranger, the taste of Pinot Noir, sunshine, rain, laughter.  And we will celebrate each person around the table, affirming the goodness and beauty in each soul.  

This simple formula of remembering and celebrating makes all the difference in cultivating gratitude.  

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.  ~Cicero

Thanks for reading.  It’s a gift.  I’m grateful for your continued friendship.