Growing up, the first course at Thanksgiving was always the same.
Five kernels of corn.
Five little kernels that served as a reminder for where this day of feasting began. During their first winter in the Americas, the Pilgrims were reduced to five measly kernels of corn a day. Many of them did not survive, and had it not been for Squanto, a Native American Indian who taught them how to grow food, none of them would have made it.
Since my family is related to William Bradford, one of those founding Pilgrims, we probably would not have made it either. Thank you Squanto.
My brothers and I would sometimes roll our eyes at the corn illustration while dad would repeat for the umpteenth time the story of that first Thanksgiving. That’s what teenagers do; we give attitude, only to admit later that our parents were pretty brilliant.
In seasons of abundance, it can be easy to forget how much you once lacked or take for granted how much you now have. We often measure success and wealth by our bank accounts, our latest gadgets and stuff. We don’t consider that even those of us who wish we had more–more savings, more home, more clothes, more of the latest–are wealthy by most of the world’s standards.
Almost half of the world lives on less than $2.50 a day.
And what about those of us that have friends or family that love us, that welcome us into their homes and their hearts when so many are lonely? We may have health where many are struggling with illness. If you have a job, though it may not be your dream, that is a chance to give thanks when unemployment has crippled so many.
For my little family, this year has been more challenging than others. It has been a year of hard places and lean times. Someday I will get to tell you all about it. For now, I can say that this Thanksgiving my heart is overflowing with gratitude for what may seem the smallest gifts: a fridge full of food, friends with whom to share this day, a marriage that is stronger than it was a year ago and a healthy, vivacious little girl who has happily upended my world.
There have been numerous times in this season when I have wanted to throw myself a pity party, when I would prefer to focus on what I seem to be missing or asked to go without, rather than what I have.
But as writer and magazine editor Lara Casey says, “Gratitude changes everything.”*
For me, cultivating gratitude for the big and small in my life has shifted my perspective countless times. Rather than be disappointed by relationships, discouraged by my circumstances or frustrated by unmet expectations, I’m learning to see my life for what it is: rich, abundant, and overwhelmingly beautiful.
My hope for you is that this Thanksgiving and holiday season you will experience the same. Remember those five little kernels and be in awe of what you have where others may lack. Begin to make gratitude a daily practice and watch it transform your perspective, your relationships and your life.
Have you experienced this simple yet profound truth, that gratitude changes everything?
*For a free download of Lara Casey’s print “Gratitude Changes Everything,” click here.