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Cary Quashen: What about the ‘thanks’ in Thanksgiving?

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Posted: November 19, 2009 10:03 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Thanksgiving was first observed by European settlers in the United States as a harvest festival and a religious observance. In its earliest forms it was a day of fasting.

The Thanksgiving feast only happened in years when the harvest was plentiful.

The meal consisted of foods native to America. The mid-17th Century, early Thanksgiving traditions were truly about giving thanks for the things that couldn't be counted on.

Today it would seem that most of us take for granted the real reason for Thanksgiving.

While we are grateful for the food, it's a different kind of thanks knowing that grocery stores are open 24-hours throughout the holiday weekend.

It would seem that the 21st century Thanksgiving has morphed into something very different, than our forefathers had in mind.
Thanksgiving has now become the turkey, football, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the anticipated after Thanksgiving Sale - the holiday shopping spree designed to ring the cash registers of local retailers.

Could it be that Thanksgiving is in need of repair?

Could it be, that we as Americans, should return to our earliest roots and once again be grateful for what we have?

If your negativity trumps your personal attitude of gratitude then consider this: There's a whole science dedicated to the study of being grateful.

Dr. Robert A. Emmons is a leading gratitude specialist and he says that gratitude forces you to focus on the "now," not the "only if."

Most of us have formed the habit of immediately identifying the negative in our lives and focusing on the "have nots."

Gratitude allows you to appreciate what you presently have in your life, not what you are lacking.

So if you are looking for just the right side dish with your Thanksgiving Dinner, may I suggest that you simmer up a pot of Hearty Gratitude Soup.

It's not my recipe; it has been handed down by great thinkers, philosophers and lovers of life from generation to generation, and now I am passing it along to you.

Hearty Gratitude Soup Recipe
First of all, you have to take action if you want to make soup, advises John F. Kennedy: "As we express gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

Meister Eckhart suggests that you start with a rich stock of thanks: "If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,' that would suffice."

Don't be concerned if you can't find your measuring cups and spoons, counsels Eric Hoffer: "The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings."

After you have added all of your ingredients to the pot, don't worry that you've left anything out, assures Epictetus: "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those he has."

Add pinches and dashes of seasonings to taste, hints Sarah Ban Breathnach: "‘Simple Abundance' has taught me that it is in the smallest details that the flavor of life is savored."

Allow your soup to simmer over a low flame said Albert Schweitzer: "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."

William Faulkner adds: "Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all."

Garnish with flair asserts Henry Ward Beecher: "Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul."

And finally, Melody Beattie reveals the secret ingredient of the soup: "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

But don't forget, you must announce when the soup is ready reminds William Arthur Ward, "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."

And Margaret Cousins agrees: "Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary."

Now serve your Hearty Gratitude Soup in everlasting portions and serve with love.

Live in the now. Be thankful for all you have.

For it truly starts with gratitude.

Cary Quashen is a certified addiction specialist and the founder and president of ACTION Parent & Teen Support Programs and the ACTION Family Counseling Centers. Quashen may be reached at (661) 713-3006.

ACTION Parent & Teen Support Group meetings are held at Canyon High School, Tuesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. in the A Building. Canyon High School is located on Whites Canyon Road and Nadal Street in Canyon Country.

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