The last Thursday in November is an official day of gratitude. The need to give thanks as a nation goes back centuries.
In England, a national day of prayers and thanks was celebrated after the plagues ended in 1604 and 1622. It was first celebrated in the United States on Sept. 8, 1565 at St. Augustine, Fla. by the Spanish.
But we connect Thanksgiving Day to the Puritans, who celebrated in 1621, grateful for a successful harvest .
U.S. President George Washington officially made it a nationwide celebration on Nov. 26, 1789 to “acknowledge with grateful hearts the favor of Almighty God.” Since then, presidents have changed the November date, but not the intention.
On Thanksgiving day, we have traditional foods - turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. We get together with family members or friends, eat, drink, talk, laugh and then collapse in front of the TV.
But do we take the time to give thanks? There are studies that show feeling grateful has a positive effect on us. Just recognizing the good makes us less likely to concentrate on the hassles that confront all of us. The habit of really giving thanks can be as beneficial as taking medication.
Consider those that have helped us along the way of our life - teachers, neighbors, relatives, friends. Decide to be the answer for someone who needs your care and compassion. Consider volunteering.
The Crisis Center’s “Crisis Contact” telephone crisis intervention lines always need people willing to give a few hours, to be a kind voice who listens non-judgmentally and offers suggestions or resources. This is especially true during the holidays.
Call Crisis Contact at (219) 938-0900 to find out how you can help.
Not just on the official celebration day of Thanksgiving, be mindful of the good times and good people you know, could or will know because you are open to the possibilities. Recognize life can be richer with gratitude. Celebrate the help of others.
Make a choice to recognize the positive rather than focus on the irritations. Appreciate, count the small daily blessings. Really make time for thanksgiving every day.
Shirley Caylor is executive director of Crisis Center Inc. in Gary. She can be reached at SCaylor@Crisiscenterysb.org. Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.