Going beyond the usual to find the 'magic' in thankfulness

Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving. For most of us this is a time of joy and excitement. We eagerly anticipate happy reunions with family and friends.

Festive sights and smells trigger powerful memories of earlier celebrations. I can remember a particularly snowy Thanksgiving in Wisconsin, during which we children built an immense snowman while awaiting the arrival of aunts and uncles.

I remember the snow cold and creaking as we patted it onto our icy man and the futility of trying to top him off with a bowler hat against an icy wind. Snow and wind pelted our senses as we eagerly awaited the comfort and pleasures of a traditional family feast.

As children, our only responsibilities were to change out of our snowy clothes and be polite at dinner. How delicious it was to be "just children" and absorb the wonder of it all, without the added burdens of the "big people," who had to craft an elaborate meal that would create more wonderful memories for us. Perhaps these easy times gave us the leisure to firmly fix in memory such belonging, such happiness.

Now, in mature adulthood, I find that Thanksgiving gives me pause for thought. When I remember to stop a moment and feel thankful for things, I feel a warmth inside, an expanding. It's a magical feeling.

Among many other things, I am thankful for memories of childhood, for incredible Nevada skies, and for enduring friendships. I'm grateful for the opportunity to express myself in this column, and for the thoughtful responses of others, whether or not they agree with me.

Though it's certainly easier to be thankful for the pleasant things, I'm even learning thankfulness for the unpleasant. It's the unpleasant people and events that have often, after all, been my best teachers. They have taught me patience, and the art of tapping my own spiritual resources to find answers to tough problems.

The "magical feeling of thankfulness" has nothing to do with guise or deception. As we give thanks for our blessings, those blessings increase, both in quantity and value. Our mental capacity grows to accept even more good.

So, it benefits us to be truly thankful on Thanksgiving. Not only will we bless what we already have, we will also be open to more good coming in! In this way, our lives are magically enhanced, expanded into good.

Yes, soon it will be Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, delightful sensations will await many of us; warm crackling fires, tantalizing smells from busy kitchens, the gleeful laughter of little ones. If we take an early and brisk walk, we can earn "calorie credits" towards an overabundant dinner, or perhaps a later walk through autumn air will bring final pleasure to a wonderful day. Somewhere in the mix of food and joviality, we can steal a minute to list the people and things we count as blessings. As we do, we will be like leaven, expanding into greater good for ourselves and others, and the "magic" in thankfulness will be ours.

Susan Paslov is a retired attorney who teaches English as a Second Language. She is married with three children and one grandchild.


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