I’m Thankful The Thanking Is Nearly Over

I am thankful that Thanksgiving is nearly over. Only a few more daily “I am thankful for …” posts on Facebook and Twitter.

I love my friends. I don’t mindlessly “friend” every person who bumps their grocery cart into me. I’m a selective Facebooker.

But, even so … the string of daily posted thankful messages can wear. When you’re thankful your manicurist convinced you to try “Berry Naughty”, well, really? Really? 

Deep down, I guess I am thankful for these thankful posts, even the seemingly frivolous ones — as they’re much better than the mean-spirited and loud political ones of the past few months.

First, there are the thankful people who have lived amazing lives … recounting their adventures, day by day. “I’m thankful for my time in the Peace Corps when I built a road for an isolated village in Paraguay.” “I’m thankful for my mother who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.”

But, even amazing lives peter out as the month goes on. What began as “I’m thankful for the people I met when I worked in an orphanage in Nepal”, by now has become, “I’m thankful the grocery store had Panko crumbs this afternoon. Dinner is saved!”

I love the spirit of these messages. But, there’s also an underlying sense of failure for the rest of us. I haven’t lived an exciting life. I haven’t done amazing things. Now, I just feel bad. Put on the spot, I’m really just thankful that my husband cleaned up Smokey Jo’s hairball this morning, allowing me a few extra minutes of sleep.

There’s another kind of serial thanker out there: The person who has decided to thank family and friends, by name, every day. This is a brilliant marketing strategy. We all tune in daily – hoping, expecting – that we will be named next.

I’m beginning to lose hope with one longtime friend, who has mowed through three, four people a day, and has now taken to thanking the birds who stopped by the feeder outside her kitchen window.

I’m thinking that perhaps I could draft up a nice little something about me that she could post. I could remind her of all the reasons why she ought to be thanking me, including that I have now saved her the trouble of writing up something about why she is thankful for me. I guarantee, your house finches will not be so thoughtful.

I am thankful. Honest, I am. I am thankful for every moment, at least I try to be. So what if I don’t feel the need to share every detail with the world? Because, when you’re so vocal in your thanks for the things in your life, you may be hurting someone else because they do not share your good fortune.

Grateful that your home survived Superstorm Sandy? Of course you are. But, remember that someone near you was not so lucky. Don’t revel. Don’t gloat by saying you’re thankful that your candidate won, saving the world from certain destruction. Conversely, don’t pout by saying you’re thankful that, while your candidate lost, God will save the world from certain destruction.

See? It’s hard to be thankful and humble at the same time. At least on the Internet.

This Mutts cartoon was published in 2002. It’s one of my favorites. See more wonderful Mutts cartoons at http://www.muttscomics.com

But, I’m thankful for you.

Even if I don’t know you. If I DO know you, you have enriched my life in the flesh. But, even if I’ve never laid eyes on you, you’ve been kind enough to read these words from time to time. And, that is a very generous thing to do.

Really, I’m thankful for you.

My dad was a North Dakota farmer. But, he remembered most fondly his time in L.A. in the 1950s where he ran a string of successful gas stations. When he died, I found this photo and a letter from the corporate head recognizing him for having the cleanest, most efficient stations. His love of Los Angeles and L.A. sports never left him.

Six years ago, my dad died. On Thanksgiving Day. 

A friend said, “Your Thanksgivings will never be the same.” But I disagreed. My dad knew that I loved Thanksgiving (and the Macy’s Parade and the Rockettes. Oh, the Rockettes!).

He wouldn’t want to take that joy away from me.

My dad gave me my love of sports. Although he preferred the Rams (L.A. and St. Louis) and the Lakers (L.A., but not Minneapolis).

He would root for the Dodgers, if pressed, but he never quite understood my love of baseball. “You didn’t get that from me, kid.” But, he was all about sports, so I probably did.

For years, he would, in the name of economy, save his copies of Sports Illustrated and mail them to me – often with little snarky comments written in the margins, and pictures of his favorite NBA players circled in Sharpie. Sure, just getting me my own subscription would have been cheaper. But, not nearly has special.

So, I’m thankful for my dad.  And, for baseball.  And, for the off-season, which is a nice time to catch up with life, and start that beautiful longing for the next game.

And, you.  Don’t forget that I’m thankful for you.

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” ~ The Buddha

10 thoughts on “I’m Thankful The Thanking Is Nearly Over

  1. Pssst – I have to let you in on a little secret. You have been the subject of many an untold, quietly spoken “thank you, Lord, for Jackie.” This usually happens after one of your friends, clients, or neighbors has received the benefit of your healing hands, your simple kindnesses, or your nurturing words. Of course, Lamar ( sp?) and Stevie probably think it multiple times each day when they consume a tasty morsel or curl up in a soft, warm spot. So, know that you are thanked even when there is no Thanksgiving in the offing. Oh, and the turkey that is not going to show up on your dinner table has asked me to forward its thanks as well.

  2. Thank you, Gloria! I have been sort of amused by some of the daily “thank you” posts my friends have been sharing. Some are wonderful and heart-felt, but some are just plain odd. I should be grateful for these posts, though — as they’re far superior to the mean-spirited and loud political posts of the past few months.

    I’m especially thankful that you are on the mend! Yay!

    And, I accept your thanks on behalf of the turkey! Yay — Tofurkey!!

  3. Jackie, I so appreciate your ability to approach profoundly spiritual issues like gratitude with such humor! I myself feel so lead-footed about the whole thing. You can make people smile!

    So here’s my take on the Facebook gratitude month. I think it’s great. Gratitude is such an important happiness strategy. But, no happiness strategy will work very well if it isn’t mindful and meaningful (like doing yoga asanas while your mind is on what you’re going to cook for dinner), and the pressure of daily postings threatens to rob the gratitude reflections of meaning. And that’s a shame. I hate to see gratitude trivialized.

    I think I may differ from you on the reveling front. Gloating and bad manners are certainly out of the question. But, we all get good and bad, and I am all for rejoicing in the good. And sharing our joy, as well as our setbacks. I recognize that we get different “goods” and that our rejoicing may bring pain to someone else. But that is always the case. At weddings, many of the guests may have broken hearts. They want to be happy for the bride and the groom, but at the same time, the ceremony tears at their own hearts a bit.

    I am especially aware of this when it comes to being a grandmother, because I had grown pretty certain that I would never be a grandmother. Watching my friends’ joy with their grandchildren brought me pain — but I always tried to cheer for my friends. Okay, now I’m one of the fortunate ones with a grandchild, and I want to share that joy, but there are plenty of things I still don’t have. More recently, a friend wrote to me in great joy that she had inherited enough money to be set for the rest of her life. I AM happy for her, but I still felt twinges of jealousy and fear about my own money situation. So for me, the real work comes in learning to be happy for others when life rolls their way.

    I’ve rambled some, but your blog was very thought provoking!

    • Hi Ginny, Thank you for taking the time to write. I may be a bit too cheeky … you’re much more thoughtful than me!

      I really do understand the joy we feel toward the good fortune of others, and that heart-felt gratitude that people feel is one we should all celebrate. But, you’ve hit on the notion of trivializing gratitude which began to eat at me during this month-long gratitude listing. It seemed to become more about “me-me-me” for some people, and less about the true essence of gratitude. Perhaps it was the shear volume of “gratitude postings”. I think I got thankfulness fatigue.

      And, I think there is a difference. Some people are truly grateful and their messages are inspiring and heart-felt. And, some do revel … and I think sometimes it might be that Facebook allows people to post things they might not say in person.

      Anyway, I’m grateful. For this moment. And … THIS moment!

      Thank YOU again, not only for reading, but for sharing your thoughts.

  4. totally agree. Facebook and Twitter thank you month is annoying. Call me negative, but it’s just an attention getting thing for most. And your Dad sounded like a great guy, especially since he loved the Lakers and the Dodgers!

    • My dad was great. It wasn’t until just recently that I realized how important his Los Angeles sports connection was to him. Of course, I became a SF 49ers and SF Giants fan when I was a kid because it gave us a way to “compete” with each other. Although I never could bring him around on baseball — to him it was merely a sport to kill time in the summer until the “real” sports season started.

  5. I’m late in reading your article on thankfulness. While I, too, read the thankful posts, I wonder how truly thankful they feel all the other times of the year, besides at Thanksgiving, when it’s the thing to say. Just wondering… I love the Buddha’s words on being thankful. Have those words on my refrigerator so I can read them EVERYDAY!!! Loved the picture of your dad. Thank you for sharing that. And oh, I AM VERY THANKFUL FOR YOU!!!!!

    • Thank you, Judy! I think it becomes hard to quantify one’s gratitude based on a made-up project. It’s been interesting to watch the daily “thankful” messages peter out on Facebook through the month. By yesterday — the end of November — I had just one person who was still doing the daily message, and you could see she was struggling to come up with something to write. I actually was pretty impressed that she made it through the month, when everyone else lost interest or simply forgot.

      To me, it just seemed to trivialize the notion of thankfulness. But, I truly am grateful for all the wonderful people who enrich my life — in person and right here online. And, in your case … both in person AND online!

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