A journey to Thanksgiving

Nov 01, 2011

When I was young, November was a sullen downtime between the exciting bookends of Halloween and Christmas. Thanks to a friend, it’s become my favorite month of the year. Here’s why.

Three years ago I was spending a grayish, overcast morning on Facebook perusing the events of my friends’ lives. It was the first week of November, and lots of my parent friends were posting pictures of their munchkins in costume and confessing that they’d been raiding the Halloween candy. However, one post from my friend Jamie caught my attention:

“Gratitude Day #4: I’m thankful for the friends who helped me rescue a litter of kittens yesterday. Two of the litter already found homes!”

Small wonder it caught my attention. I love gratitude, friends and kittens. It was a 3-for-1 winner! But more than that, I was intrigued. I looked at Jamie’s previous messages. Every day of November she had listed a specific moment or item for which she was thankful — her daughter’s smile, an unexpected phone call from a friend, the results of a new recipe. None of the items were huge. Instead, they were moments of simple joys that might flit away through the winds of an otherwise hectic life. But Jamie was using the month of November to cup her hands around these delicate moments, to wonder at their beauty and, by sharing her process, to encourage others to do the same.

That encouragement worked. Beginning that very moment, I used Facebook to record one moment of thanksgiving in my own life. I continued each day of that month, and each day of each November since. And since that time, I’ve noticed a couple of results:

1. A different kind of beauty. As the colors of October fade to somber browns outside, my life becomes more colorful, tinted with a vast collection of joyful moments that provide different textures and hues to my frame of mind.

2. No more holiday blahs. I used to feel that I was scrambling after an elusive feeling of Thanksgiving (and Christmas) that I could never quite achieve. However, after a month of practicing daily gratitude, that holiday spirit is no longer a fleeting shadow. It’s very real.

3. Gratitude is a hard habit to shake. After November 30th, I may stop broadcasting my gratitude moments to my friends, but that doesn’t mean I stop noticing those moments. Quite the contrary — gratitude has become the best habit in my life. And it’s with me all year.

Don’t get me wrong. It took more than 30 moments or items to establish my habit of gratitude. All my life I’ve practiced prayer and meditation. Further, folks who know my parenting style know that every bedtime I have my kids list moments during their day for which they are thankful. But November’s online gratitude journal is like going back to thanksgiving boot camp for me. It is reaffirming. And it’seasy.

Today I am thankful that I get to share this idea with you, and I encourage you to give it a go. Yes, November is already underway — that doesn’t matter! Start now. Keep your eyes and your heart open today for a fleeting moment of happiness, of peace, of rightness. Cup it gently in your hands. Acknowledge it. Be thankful for it, and release it. If you feel like it, share that moment with a friend or loved one. Do it and I promise November will become one of your favorite months, too.

Angela Dove is an award-winning columnist and author of the true crime book, "No Room for Doubt: A True Story of the Reverberations of Murder." She welcomes feedback at www.AngelaDove.com.

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