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Thanksgiving: More than just food

Updated on April 29, 2015
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Oh the selection!

It is no secret that people look forward to Thanksgiving. Thoughts of turkey, stuffing, yams and all sorts of desserts fill our heads. We gather with friends and family to share in a day of good food. Some people have meals that have become tradition in their families and some people simply enjoy whatever sounds good. That is the wonderful thing about this holiday, there is no right or wrong way to enjoy the meal.

I personally enjoy a bit of family tradition. I serve glazed ham, cornbread stuffing, jellied cranberry sauce, a veggie, mashed potatoes and gravy, deviled eggs and rolls or homemade bread. Oh and can't forget about the pumpkin and apple pies! It is a rather simple but satisfying meal. I am usually not bothered by pesky leftovers, as there aren't any. I do, however, have to contend with the the mountain of dishes and kitchen clean up.

I have on occasion, spent Thanksgiving at the homes of other people, both friends and family. I have been privy to roast beef, meatloaf and chicken as the meats of choice. The point is that there are so many options for creating a Thanksgiving feast. Sometimes just the varieties of appetizers and desserts can make your head swim.

There is one question though, is food the only reason we celebrate Thanksgiving?

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The reason for the celebration

The fabulous food may be what most of us think about when Thanksgiving draws near. However, it is not actually the reason for the celebration. Thanksgiving is a time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors and count the blessings we all have been given. I have been alone and still managed to be thankful for the things I had.

In my opinion, people sometimes get too wrapped up in the material aspects of holidays like Thanksgiving. We tend to want to set a fancy table and decorate with cute/pretty things and serve the best foods possible. All of those things are nice, yes, but certainly not mandatory for a good celebration of thanks.

If all you have is macaroni and cheese for your thanksgiving feast, then be thankful for that! Why in the world would anyone be thankful for being alone and eating measly mac and cheese on a holiday? Simple. Be thankful for being alive and having something to eat. Not everyone in this world is lucky enough to have something to eat any day, let alone a holiday.

My goal is not to preach or make anyone feel bad for doing well. My goal is simply to offer a friendly reminder of what Thanksgiving actually means. It means to be thankful for what you have.

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How to be thankful with next to nothing

Thanksgiving can be a rather depressing time of year for some of us. We may find it difficult to count our blessings when it seems like we have none. I'm not talking about fancy homes or cars or lots of money. Sure, we'd all like to enjoy those things, but we make do with what we can afford. I'm talking about those of us who lost our jobs, homes, vehicles and our self worth. How in the world can we be thankful for losing it all?

The answer to that question is not exactly simple, but definitely within our reach.

I lost my job about six months ago. I started from the bottom and worked my way up and had accomplished much within that company. I am in the process of divorcing my husband of sixteen years and moved back to my hometown. I still have not managed to secure a job to get me back on solid ground. I do not have a vehicle nor do I have my belongings. I am literally starting over from the ground up. I have few resources in my small community. To be quite honest, I still have days where I feel completely defeated.

The point to my story? I count my blessings every single day. I have been blessed in so many ways. I have a roof over my head and food in my stomach. I have clothes on my back and my trusty laptop. I have people that care about me and help in whatever way they can. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and the coming Christmas season.

In the end, it is not material things we should be thankful for, it is our own spirit. At the end of the day, no one can help us but ourselves. Be thankful for having the spirit and heart to open your eyes and carry on with another day. Thanksgiving is all about appreciating what we have, and what we all have is spirit. We have the courage to face our lives and make it through. That friends, is a lot to be thankful for.

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Make the most of the day

The sad fact is that many of us will not be dining on turkey and trimmings, nor will we have pumpkin pie or a pretty table setting. Many of us will not be surrounded by friends and family. Is that depressing? Not in the least, speaking for myself of course. I will be blessed with the presence of a very special person, possibly two, and we will more than likely be having that mac and cheese as our feast.

It is not what you eat that matters, only that you get to eat. Take the time to count off your blessings and truly be thankful for what you have. No matter how much or how little you think you have, you are blessed with life. Life can be very difficult and we don't always enjoy the challenges. However, life is also full of beauty and blessings, we just have to open our eyes and see them.

When Thanksgiving rolls around this year, use it to give thanks and make the most of it. Enjoy your food and activities whether in a group or alone. Reflect on the past and all of the things you have lived through and think about what you are going to do in the future. Most of all, be thankful for that moment, that day and what you have.

© 2014 Tammy Cramblett

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