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The Practice of Thanks Giving

Updated on November 27, 2013
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Is the turkey who crosses the road without incident grateful? What about the one that didn't end up on someone’s dinner table on Thanksgiving? Are theys rejoicing today? We will never know but we must admit that it takes skill (and practice) to avoid oncoming traffic and the truck that delivers turkeys to the slaughterhouse. Living in a state of gratitude also requires practice4 and skill.

Being good at something doesn't just happen; not normally anyway. Great skill comes with practice. Doctors aren’t automatically great doctors just because they earn their degree and nurses aren’t always great nurses when they graduate from nursing school. An engineer can't build a safe bridge just because they earned a degree. Like any professional, we have not become experts at being grateful simply because we celebrate Thanksgiving or any other day designated as a day to give thanks. It takes practice to be truly grateful.

The catalyst

After writing about the truth of a holiday we call Thanksgiving recently, a fellow writer left a comment saying that they get so caught up in day to day living that they sometimes forget to be grateful. While thinking about my response to the comment, I realized that gratitude has become a part of my day to day life. It isn’t separate from my life, I don't know exactly when or how it happened but I'm sure it was born out of a series of life's challenges. It happens that way with us humans, doesn't it? We assume too much and take too much for granted, don't we?


Looking back, I think that those challenges in my life, although hard, were some of my most important lessons. As one after the other resolved, I found myself feeling grateful and yes, it was a new experience. It felt good and in those moments of gratitude, I began to think of others who were facing adversity. I wondered how I could help them find the same peace that comes from being truly grateful. Gratitude was a gift to me and to enjoy its true richness, I knew I must share it.

So, are you ready to hear how I responded to the comment? Of course you are and I am more than happy to share with you how saying thanks has become second nature to me. In fact, it is an obligation.

Life, the great teacher and challenger

I’ve had a pretty good life, relatively speaking. I’m 58 years old and I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve had one serious illness which was cured. I rarely get sick and I don’t have any pain. The joints are sometimes a little stiff in the morning and I can’t party all night anymore but hey, I don’t want to so that’s okay. My driving record is amazing for someone who has been on the road a lot for over forty years. I’ve had one major accident and didn’t’ even get a scratch when the car was flipped upside down and totaled. Three speeding tickets within three months cured me of being in a hurry. One house fire stole all my personal possessions but my animals and I were not injured. Two divorces left me with two ex-husbands who turned out to be great friends. I could go on but I think you’re starting to see a pattern.

Nothing in my life that seemed hard at the time kept me down. Even when I thought I couldn’t, I survived and ended up stronger and better for having had the experience. It made gratitude easy. There were a few tragedies that struck people close to me. Those hurt and changed life as I knew it but the strength I had gained carried me through the challenges and change. On the other side, I found gratitude. Somewhere along the line, I realized that I had a lot to be grateful for and that I needed to remind myself of it once in a while. There was a time that I started a gratitude journal but soon discovered that I was more spontaneous than disciplined. The journals were soon lost in the other stacks of books I hadn't taken time to read.

Practicing Gratitude

Now it’s no secret that I love my morning coffee. It’s probably the most repeated statement throughout all my writing. Why? Because it is my thinking time. It’s where I learned to practice giving thanks. Those few moments in the morning, sitting with that first cup of hot, steamy java, is my time to think about the day ahead and, to refelct on the one gone by. It’s a short window of time but it’s certainly a good way to start a day. Giving thanks doesn’t require a ceremony. It can be as simple as – being aware. Sitting with my coffee, I see the sun peek over the horizon and hear the birds begin their morning greetings to one another and I cannot help but whisper a “thank you” for the gift of another day. I don’t know what the day might bring but I am happy to be given one more chance to get things right, to try one more time to be a better person, and yes, to even have one more day that makes me a little older, but hopefully a lot wiser.

As my day progresses, I may find myself out on the road taking care of business. Some days I travel in silence and sometimes, I crank the stereo in the car and sing at the top of my lungs. Sure, I probably look like a complete fool but who cares. As I drive along, I run through another mental list of things I am grateful for. The focus of that gratitude varies. Sometimes it will be gratitude that the store clerk was friendly or that the product I was looking for was right there on the shelf. Occasionally I find myself just grateful to have the time to run the errands or for a vehicle that didn’t leave me stranded. That wasn’t always the case. I’ve driven some real junk in my lifetime.

Looking Past Our Selves and Seeing Others

I’ve learned that I don’t have to look far to see someone who is having it a lot harder than me. There’s a guy in my neighborhood who travels all over town by wheel chair. I see him in the oddest places and I know how he got there. He pushed that little lever on that wheelchair all day long, struggling to get that chair over curbs, dodging traffic and pedestrians alike, but determined not to let that wheel chair confine him to the status of an invalid. Gratitude? How can I not feel it? I have two healthy legs and a vehicle. Of course I’m grateful.

There is another guy who is sleeping behind the dumpster in my apartment complex. I watch him leave every morning around 9 o'clock. But I feel a little better knowing he has eaten the sandwich I left last night and that he at least had a heavy coat to put on. I picked one up at Goodwill for $5.00 and left it behind the dumpster. He's wearing it and I feel better.

Before you accuse me of rambling, let’s get on to the rest of the story. No matter what the day brings, the practice of giving thanks is the closing act of my day. As I lay my head on the pillow, I run through the last of my mental lists for the day. I have to think about something while I’m waiting for sleep to come so why not think about the gifts of the day. With practice, I began to see the gift, even when it is hidden in difficulty.

Challenges are really just opportunities.

Yesterday, I couldn’t write and I was frustrated and angry. My computer was infected with a virus and I spent the entire day disinfecting files. I was livid that someone would write malicious code just for the hell of it and cause me to lose an entire day of productive work. And then, as my eyes closed on the day, I remembered that even in the struggle, I was fortunate. I still had electricity to run my computer, a roof over my head, food in the pantry, and clean water to drink. And I remembered the victims of Hurricane Isaac and Superstorm Sandy. I thought of those in Gaza and Israel ducking bombs and burying their dead. I thought of the children in Appalachia going to bed hungry and cold, the woman facing an uncertain future with breast cancer, and, the homeless veteran sleeping in a city park. These are the gifts, the thoughts that now come without prompting, to remind me of all that I have in my life. I have trained my brain to be grateful and to think in terms of sharing the gift.

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Paying It Forward

There are two parts to the word thanks-giving. They are not separate from each other. Thanksgiving, the holiday, is a day for us to share with loved ones. To live in a constant state of thanks-giving requires more of us. It requires us to practice and become skilled in the art of gratitude and, to share it. It's about feeling thankful and paying it forward. So, as I put the final touches on this piece, let me take a moment and say –

Today, I give thanks for you. I am grateful that you would take the time from your busy life to read my work. I appreciate the gift of your life and for all you contribute to making the world a better place. For all your efforts to provide for your family or to help a stranger, I am grateful. Although giving thanks has become second nature to me, I will continue the practice of giving thanks because I never want to take you or this life I have been given for granted.

Blessings to you and yours!


Read more of my hubs here.

© 2012 Linda Crist

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  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

    Beautiful hub devoted to the spirit of true understanding with thanks and giving.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Shining! THANK YOU for always supporting my efforts to put some meaning in everything I write. I'm so grateful for your friendship. Blessings!

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

    Linda,

    This is so very beautiful and I give thanks to you too. I am so blessed by this writing and your friendship here on HP!!! You are truly a wonderful person, as you have a heart of pure love for others, and I know I have said that before, I am sure, but it is so true.

    Yes, just as you, I give thanks each and every single day no matter what is going on . . . and I have had those computer days myself, which are so very frustrating to say the least.

    When I wake up with my hot java too, I give thanks for even just one breath, and throughout the day too . . . giving thanks . . . and then when I lay my head down on my nice pillow in my nice warm bed, boy, am I so very grateful just to have a nice warm bed in which to sleep!!!

    57, no way, see what being thankful does for one's health and youthful appearance! Being joyful and giving thanks, I believe really do make one's heath and life just oh so more bearable and pleasant.

    "A joyful heart is good medicine."

    Linda, I pray you have the very best of Thanksgivings ever and if you are traveling be safe.

    I am going to get back to writing soon. However, I am blessed beyond measure to read your thought-provoking writings here as always.

    Voted Way up and sharing That picture is the best ever!!! LOL

    In His Love, Faith Reaper

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    We made eight pumpkin pies last night. This morning we drove downtown, stopped in front of the first homeless person we saw, and gave them a pumpkin pie. You should have seen the smile that we were given in return.

    I love my life, Linda, and like you, gratitude is just a way of life for me. I have seen the darkness and I'm never returning.

    Have a wonderful day my friend. Bev and I send love and gratitude your way.

    bill

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Dear, dear Faith, you are ever faithful and more precious each and every day. I too am ever so grateful for our friendship. You encourage, support, and show me every day the goodness in people and all the reasons I have to be full of joy. Thank you. Thank you for your too generous comments but more for the most important gift of friendship. Blessings to you and your family!

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Dear Bill. You and Bev are just too cool. What a great thing to do. I wonder how long it's been since that homeless person had a whole dang pie to themselves. I can just imagine the pleasure you gave them. Now, my heart is all warm and fuzzy and nothing will get me down today. Hugs nd love to you both!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Linda, it was a Kodak moment for sure.

    I'm calling on your tomorrow to join me on a crusade. :) I know I can count on you!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I'm in too big a hurry...that should say I am calling on you and others tomorrow....we are going to go viral with a message. :)

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    I'm on board and I don't even know what it is. Trust? You darned right I trust you. Whatever you want to do, I'm in it for the long haul. :-)

  • dailytop10 profile image

    dailytop10 4 years ago from Davao City

    Great hub!

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thank you dailytop10. I appreciate your visit today.

  • btrbell profile image

    Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

    What a beautiful and amazing sentiments! How wonderful that you don't take life for granted. When I was first married, my mother in law used to use the phrase, "g-d's will" everytime she spoke about something positive. I used to smile inside, not appreciating it nearly as much as I do now. Now, I get it! Linda, "thanks" for "giving" of yourelf to us by sharing your thoughts and ideas! Have a wonderful thanksgiving! up and awesome!

  • debbiepinkston profile image

    Debbie Pinkston 4 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

    Linda, Thanks for reminding us that we don't have to wait for Thanksgiving day to be thankful!

  • janshares profile image

    Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

    Oh Linda, I looooooove this hub! I'm so glad I stopped by and found it. I was hoping to find a piece like this to read today and you nailed it. Reading it moved me. I have so much to be grateful for right now. Thank you for your eloquent, down to earth style that reminds us of what today, and everyday is really about. Voted up, useful, awesome, and beautiful. Peace to you.

  • janshares profile image

    Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

    Oh Linda, I loooooove this hub! I'm so glad I stopped by and found it. I was hoping to find and read a piece like this today and you nailed it. Thank you for reminding us of what this day and everyday is really about. I was moved as I read this as I have so much to be grateful for. Your eloquent and down to earth style of sharing is a blessing. Voted up, useful, awesome, and beautiful. Peace to you.

    (I hope this comment posts this time)

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

    May the blessing of God be with you always. As bad as my life is now, I lived a life that is the smile I can still put on your face. May it be your inspiration to you.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Randi. Thanks for sharing your story with me. Life, even when it is hard, is precious and too short to take for granted. I think that as we age, that becomes common sense and more meaningful to us. Thank you for spending time here with me today. It means a lot to me.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Debbie! You didn't need a reminder. Your heart is huge and I don't think you can be so caring without also being grateful. :-) But, I appreciate that you took time to read my thoughts today. It is a busy day for a lot of folks so to have hub friends visit is extra special.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello Jan. Your comment gave me warm fuzzies. It is a real compliment to hear that you have shared the words that someone else needed. It happens to me often here on HP. I am happy you found something positive here and hope you will come back so that we can get to know each other. Thank you so much for the kind words.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    MH, I am grateful for our friendship and you always inspire me. Blessings to you as well my friend. I wish better days ahead for you and soon. Thank you for being here today!

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

    Very touching and heartwarming to read your post. I love your thoughts, "Nothing in my life that seemed hard at the time kept me down. Even when I thought I couldn’t, I survived and ended up stronger and better for having had the experience" -- this is my view as well. Your advice is excellent. Hope your Thanksgiving was a good one. Blessings.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello teaches12345! You are very kind and I appreciate your words more than you know. So much of life is about our attitude and growing older helps that as much as anything. :-) My day was wonderful and I hope that yours was too. Thanks again.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

    Linda, what a wonderful hub, full of memories and thankful words. You are penning down so many thoughts in one hub, we had to read it twice.I can relate to so many situations and even though I don't feel my age, I watch my health. There is a reason for all of us to be here and I'm thankful to have you with us. Thanks for another excellent writing from your heart.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Good morning Joseph! I don't know whether it's a compliment or not when someone has to read your hub twice. lol Thank you for reading it in the first place. I appreciate every visit. Isn't it wonderful not to feel this chronological age? I agree that we are here with purpose and I am thrilled to be a part of the plan. Thank you for your most kind words.

  • Louisa Rogers profile image

    Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

    linda, thank you so much for your story of leaving a sandwich and a coat. Examples of generosity are always good models for me, because it doesn't always come naturally to me. And i absolutely love your point that awareness alone is a form of gratitude. If I'm feeling resistant to saying thanks, I can always go another route! Brilliant! Glad to be in this group with you!

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Louisa, even resistance is good. It means you are thinking. :-) A quick look at your profile tells me you have many things to be grateful for and that I don't need to tell you what they are. My God, you are grabbing life by the horns and riding that bull. Bicycling all over the world, minimizing your material possessions, enjoying a good relationship, are all things that I think many would love to have.

    My story of the sandwich and coat is nothing. I did what I could do without threatening this man. I hope that in time he will stay around long enough for me to understand why he is sleeping behind the dumpster and let me offer to help him find shelter. But, I respect his right to privacy and dignity, whatever little he has. And, I accept that some choose homelessness over the stress of participating in society. It takes w while sometimes to sort those from those that are homeless due to circumstance.

    I'm happy to have you here too.

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

    I'm thankful for your hub and for you always giving back to make the world a better place. You rock Linda!

    Funny photo of the turkey crossing the road. Made me think about a chicken for some reason. Haha!

  • Cyndi10 profile image

    Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

    Hello Linda, This is a beautiful hub and it is beautiful of you to share your thoughts of gratitude with us. Taking a few moments each day to give thanks is something we should all do, because if we look around, there is so much to be thankful for, even in the face of adversities. It may be harder to understand that sometimes, but reality is merely getting up alive and able to face another day is a reason to be grateful. Take care there is Central Virginia. (I'm sure Fall was spectacular this year!)

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey Linda! Turkeys are just as stupid as chickens when it comes to crossing roads. lol You are so precious. I thank you for your compliment and for reading all my "stuff". All my life I took in strays. Now, I write about them. :-)

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Cyndi10, here you are again. Thanks or reading another one of my hubs. You are right about adversity. Sometimes we don't see the important lessons until much later. My Dad always said that every day he woke up was a good day. I think it was instilled in me long ago. Thank you for sharing the feeling with me. Fall? Yes, it was beautiful here this year. The colors didn't stay as long this time but were beautiful while they were here.

  • savingkathy profile image

    Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Linda, thank you for writing this beautiful hub. I agree that we should all take more time to be grateful for what we have, and to help out others in whatever way we can. I too have found that some of my biggest challenges in life have taught me such important lessons and brought me many unexpected blessings.

    Thank you for all you do to help make the world a better place. :)

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    sayngkathy! Hello! Thanks for the great comment. Seems we are on the same page. :-) As for what I do, it's just a drop in the ocean. There are some amazing people in this world!

  • EyesStraightAhead profile image

    Shell Vera 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

    Beautiful! I too practice the art of gratitude daily. I don't want to just be thankful for everything...I want live with an attitude of gratitude. I want to feel blessed to spend each moment breathing and doing something I love doing.

  • Rusticliving profile image

    Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

    Linda, This hub is simply wonderful! Although I don't know you personally, I feel as if we grew up together. We have so much in common!

    I love your outlook on life, your appreciation for your life, and the positivism you give the readers. a BIG Thumbs up and very much shared! ♥

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi EyesStraightAhead. I love it - your comment of living with an attitude of gratitude. It is a loft, but realistic goal. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Rusticlivigng! Hello! I am happy to meet you here in this space and look forward to getting to know you. I was very blessed to have a great childhood, parents who taught me to appreciate the small things, and strive to be an example to others. At times, I have failed miserably but am always grateful for another chance. Thank you for your very generous comment.

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    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, what you do for the homeless man in your complex is the most selfless thing I've heard (besides Bill's pumpkin pies!). You truly are a lover of spirit with a heart that bleeds for all who are less fortunate. I admire your strength and purity.

    Wonderful hub!

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Shauna, I wish I was all that. I'm not. There are times when I am very cynical and crusty. On the other hand, being soft-hearted has sometimes made my life very hard because I looked for so much good and was naive. I've made a lot of mistakes, done some real stupid stuff, and have learned not to judge others, lest I be judged. :-) I respect that man's right to live the way he chooses so until I am sure that this is his choice, the least I can do is offer a little food and a warm jacket. It was a small gesture and a safe one. Thank you for the compliment though.

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    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    God's working through you, girl! :-)

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