The turkey is gone, the carcass has been made into soup, Black Friday is history, and maybe the spirit of Thanksgiving feels like it's wearing thin. Keeping Thanksgiving is a lot like keeping a friend's place in line. You guard it. Very deliberately...
Each day, no kidding, no exception. No matter what's going on, how you feel, what new hassle has come your way, stand up and announce something you're thankful for. Write it down, put it in a box (I love boxes), and maybe even pat the box when you do it. Find a child -- this might not be difficult if you have children. Say to the child, "What are you thankful for?" The child might shout, "My Mega Bloks Halo Warthog." This is valid. Write it down, put it in the box. And you now have another thing to be thankful for -- there is yet no Ultra Supreme Mega Halo Warthog that, say, glows in the dark. If you are in a child-free zone, pull out your inner child -- you know, the one you used to be. Ah now, you might not have had a conversation with that child in some time. Think about what you might have said at age 6 or 9 or 12 when asked, "What are you grateful for?" The young you shouts, "Chocolate!"
See, some things never change. Have some chocolate, don't put it in the box.
Keeping is a great word, a word we all think we know, and then somebody, like a writer, looks it up. Keep means to preserve; to maintain; to take care of. And we need to do that with thanksgiving, not just the day, but the attitude, it needs help beyond what a Mega Bloks Halo Warthog could ever provide. It needs to be guarded and tended and preserved. After Thanksgiving, I was interviewed on radio station KFBK, Sacramento's #1 news station. I talked about maintaining thankfulness and the anchor Tim Lantz asked me a great question: What do people do who just don't feel thankful? I said, "Think about a time when you were thankful. Try to take some steps to get back there again." That's preserving the memory, I think. I've continued to ponder the question in these complicated days when so many are hurting.
What are we thankful for? It's a great question to pose to your family (all ages) and friends. Their answers might surprise you, inspire you. Write them down, put them in your box. You might find that you run out of boxes. I hope that you do. If that's the case, just write it all on your heart and keep thanksgiving alive.
**My new novel, Almost Home, is about holding onto thankfulness no matter what.