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Thanksgiving from a Spiritual Perspective

Updated on January 24, 2012

"Everybody can be great...because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." --Aesop

Duck family at the Riverwalk.  Riverside, California.
Duck family at the Riverwalk. Riverside, California. | Source

The Deeper Meaning

We are all familiar with what the Thanksgiving dinner looks like on the dining room table: There is the turkey. Then there are all the side dishes that make the meal special, such as the mash potatoes and gravy, the stuffing, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, and so on. Plus, we must not forget the desserts. That would be a disaster.

What is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie!

But is Thanksgiving only about the food? Of course not! Many go to Thanksgiving dinners to celebrate it with friends and family. These might be the people that you haven’t seen in a long time, or they might be friends and relatives that you see every day. You could even celebrate the holiday by yourself. It does not matter. Now, what does the word “Thanksgiving” mean?

If we take the word “Thanksgiving” and break it up into two words, we have “thanks” and “giving.” Put simply, we are showing thanks by giving. Another word for “giving” is “sharing.” When we invite people over for a Thanksgiving meal, we are showing our appreciation by sharing a wonderful meal with them. We also give thanks by sharing our time with others. Our love that we share with others is what it is really about! However, a great many see Thanksgiving as an obligation.

“Oh no, we have to go there again. I’d rather eat a TV dinner than to spend time with those people!”

If a person feels that strong in not wanting to go, then maybe they should listen to their heart. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend time away from others. It is quite healthy to hang out with yourself. It is only a problem if that is all that you want to do. We, humans, need to connect with one another, but we also need time to recharge our batteries. Personally, I know that being in crowds too long drains me.

Now, let me get back to our word “Thanksgiving.” This part is very interesting:

When we are saying “thank you,” we are giving; and when we are giving, we are saying “thank you.” These two words are interchangeable. I think this is a very important concept to consider.

Being spiritual is about being aware.

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo | Source

The Magical Words

We can take these two words and apply them to our day to day lives. How wonderful it is to receive complements and kind thoughts from others! That wonderful thought that you were just told is a “thank you” and gift at the same time. When we appreciate the comment by saying “thank you,” we are also sharing a gift with the sender in the form of appreciation.

Sharing kind thoughts = Thank you = Gift; Thank you = Appreciation = Gift

The great things about complements, is that they do not cost us a thing. We are actually creating a gain for both parties! Yeah! We make the other person feel good by our kind words, while at the same time we feel good for making the other person feel good. On the other hand, viscous comments directed at someone create negative feelings in which both parties lose. This is definitely not fun.

I like the film “Evan Almighty” in which God, played by Morgan Freeman, explains to Evan about the word “ARK,” which stands for “Acts of Random Kindness.”

I truly believe that our acts of kindness, whether directed to ourselves or others, are powerful ways to transform our world. They don’t cost us much energy. They create a win-win situation for both people. It is a gift for both the sender and receiver.

What person does not like to receive a gift?


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    • Terry27 profile image

      Terry Fatland 4 years ago from Southern California

      Marie, thank you very much for the Holiday wishes. We are not much into Holidays ourselves; however, we do celebrate the spirit of the Holiday like you guys. We prefer to spend time with like-minded individuals. Marilyn and I are sort of like the black sheep in our families. LOL. :)

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 4 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Thank you, I also hope you and Marilyn have a beautiful Thanksgiving. Phil is not too into Holidays, not even Christmas but because of me he enjoys it and celebrates the spirit of the Holiday. :)

    • Terry27 profile image

      Terry Fatland 4 years ago from Southern California

      Marie, you are very welcome. It is great to have reminders from time to time. I find it rather amazing that even a smile can make a huge impact in someone's life. It is wonderful to see babies smile because they smile from their soul. You can see the unconditional love radiate from their eyes.

      Marilyn and I will celebrate Thanksgiving by ourselves. There are occassions when we will celebrate it with family. To tell you the truth, I never really thought too deep about Thanksgiving until last year, and especially, when my sister and family came over for a Thanksgiving meal. My sister shared an experience that she and her family had by feeding the homeless a Thanksgiving meal. This made me really think what this day really means. It inspired a Christmas short story that I will re-share next month.

      Thank you, Marie, for voting this article up. I hope you and Phil have a wonderful Thanksgiving. :)

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 4 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Thanks for this reminder about being thankful and in giving back. We do it through acts of love and kindness even if it's a smile. Thanksgiving used to be festive for me but as the years have passed, it's now celebrated by just me and Phil as family lives far. I always make sure we have a delicious Thanksgiving meal with plenty of leftovers, :) and celebrate the things we are grateful for.

      Voted up of course. :)

    • Terry27 profile image

      Terry Fatland 5 years ago from Southern California

      You are welcome, Phyllis. I'm glad you liked it. I see much hurrying about during the holidays. People get so stressed out during these times. It is important for individuals to ask themselves what are they really celebrating. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      I like this hub very much. Holidays come and go in today's world and few are left who remember the spiritual side of why we celebrate. Thanks, Terry.

    • Terry27 profile image

      Terry Fatland 5 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks TK. I appreciate the comment. You are absolutely right. It's all about the intent. When I give someone a compliment, it is coming from an honest motivation; however, there are some individuals that are not coming from good intentions that use others for their personal gain. They may smile and say kind words, but that is not their true intent. But I think it is getting harder and harder for people to deceive others. Honesty is were we are moving to as a spiritual beings.

      I can see how people are frustrated. At some level, people know that they are more than just a mind and body. There is an awareness that is awakening. I have been frustrated with the academic arena in its blatant disregard for things spiritual and metaphysical. Deepak Chopra says that what is missing from [mainstream] science is "consciousness." Quantum physics is one area of science that acknowledges consciousness.

      One way to show appreciation and respect to others is through hub posts such as this.

      Thanks, TK, for sharing your thoughts.

    • TKs view profile image

      TKs view 5 years ago from The Middle Path

      Hey Terry,

      One thing that stands out, is when we say thank-you or when we are giving from an honest motivation, we're showing our respect to the other person.

      I think that's one of the things fueling the dissent in this country and around the world. Many people feel they're not being respected or acknowledged for who they are beyond the physical levels.

      The only other thing I can say is, Thank-You, for writing this.