Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Tips

This year Jerome and I will be spending Thanksgiving with part of our NYC family.  We'll get the best of both worlds, cooking a bit and traveling a bit.  Small quantities of both these elements make up a perfect American holiday.  Although our cooking will only be cheddar and black pepper biscuits, cranberry citrus relish and sage and shallot mashed potatoes and our travel will only be from Manhattan to Brooklyn we'll sure to get the full effect of both.  That gets me thinking about what Thanksgiving is all about.

Thanksgiving for me is about turkey cut-outs made of brown construction paper, beautiful home cooked meals with family and friends, sharing snip-its and insights about what we're grateful for around the dinner table, and of course, just a little bit of NFL football.  My aunt Kathleen is one of the best cooks in the Northern Hemisphere (ok, maybe we'll limit it to California), and prepares a flawless Turkey and amazing Apple Pie that melts in your mouth every year.  Kathleen's cooking isn't the only thing I'll miss this Thanksgiving.  I'll be sad to be away from my family this holiday, as I always am on Easter, Mothers/Fathers Days, etc. but I'm very grateful that I have such amazing friends to share it with.

This blog post, which is drafted by Kevin Ngo and appeared on his blog on last Friday offered some great tips.  Although I've seen several articles offering "Thanksgiving Tips," for how to make it through a full day with your extended family, or faking a deep and passionate love for bad food, these tips actually focused on how to be grateful.  I loved it, and decided to re-post it here.  Hopefully he doesn't mind.


With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d write about the meaning of Thanksgiving and what this joyous occasion is really about. I won’t be talking about Pilgrims and turkey dinners however, gobble gobble. What I’ll be talking about is the true meaning of Thanksgiving: Gratitude. We all know this of course but hopefully this post will serve as a reminder as well as give you some new insights.

How many people do you know go through life frustrated because they feel like they never seem to be or have what they want? It strikes me as odd to see people who seem to have so much going for them, yet never seem to be happy. How about you? Do you ever find yourself stressed and unfulfilled? What do you think it takes to be happy?

You see, we all have these rules of what has to happen in order for us to be happy. For some people they need a million dollars, for others, as long as they have their health, they’re happy. What are your rules? What has to happen in your mind in order for you to be happy? Many things may be running through your mind right now, but if I could just suggest one thing… And that is, be happy for what you already have.

Think about what you have in your life right now. Think of the friends you have, your spouse, the house you’re living in, the car you’re driving, or maybe the sports trophy from your school days or your college diploma or even the laptop or computer you’re using… do you remember back when one or more of these things were mere goals or desires that you had? How did you feel the moment when you finally obtained it?

Often times we get so caught up in our next dream or goal and we completely forget how much we use to want what we now have but take for granted. We’ve all heard the saying about not knowing how much something means to us until it’s gone, but I say, “If that’s the case, why wait?” Appreciate what you have while you’ve still got it. How? I’m glad you asked.

Tips For Being Grateful

1. Visualize not having what you have.

Imagine not having the car you currently drive or the house you live in or the people you have in your life. You may be hating your job but imagine losing it tomorrow. Imagine losing your legs or arms or your eyesight. If you really play along and go full out on this, you will be more appreciative of what you have.

2. Give things away that you wanted in the past, got it, but no longer appreciate.

What if you gave away things you don’t even take notice anymore, the things you’ve taken for granted. Donate your kidney, your hair, your car, your parents, or maybe your siblings. Yes I’m joking but think about how you’d feel if you were actually in the process of giving these away. How does the thought of losing these things or people make you feel?

3. Be thankful every morning.

Those first two tips can be powerful if you really do it full out, but the problem is they might not last too long. A week might go by you can could be back to taking things you have for granted again. So like exercising, to be grateful everyday, you need to do it everyday. Each morning when you wake up, think about all the things you are grateful for. What do you have that you would never want to lose? Don’t just think about it, really feel it. Feel the joy and happiness in your body. Starting your day like this will do wonders for the rest of the day. Do this every day and it’ll do wonders for the rest of your life.

So for this Thanksgiving holiday, remember, the meaning of Thanksgiving is to be thankful for what you have and it’s a day that’s set as a reminder for us to be grateful. Whatever you end up doing or end up spending time with this Thanksgiving, be happy that you have those people in your life. If you don’t have anyone or anything, at least be grateful for your eyesight and ability to read. Again, happiness really comes down to what rules you set for yourself in order to be happy. And it’s always a good place to start with what you already have.

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