Giving Thanks, Every Day.

By Alyce YoungbloodNovember 28, 2013

Thanksgiving looks a little different for everybody, doesn’t it? Maybe you get up early to see your favorite floats on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Maybe you eat a simple meal with immediate family, or an expansive potluck spread with a large gathering of friends and neighbors. Maybe it calls for intermittent napping during an afternoon of football games. Maybe you wear your favorite sweater, and reminisce under dim lamplight, and go to bed early so you have energy for Black Friday shopping.

Or perhaps your holiday doesn’t so closely resemble the ones in the commercials. Maybe you’re alone. Maybe you’re caught in the crossfire of family estrangement. Maybe Thanksgiving is just another day off of work or school, and you don’t have any special plans. Maybe the money, or the time, or the people just aren’t there to warrant any feasting. Maybe all the celebration is, to you, a stressful nightmare you must fake your way through. Maybe the faces that used to make this day meaningful are no longer around your dining room table.

At TWLOHA, whenever a significant holiday rolls around (and for our supporters in the United States, this is usually considered a significant one), we want to remember and include those whose struggles might trump the warmth of tradition. The truth is, this is the case for a great number of people, and it’s important to acknowledge those experiences. But while our observances of Thanksgiving may vary greatly, there is something that unites us today—and that is our very need to give and receive thanks.

Recently, I watched a short TED Talk from a few years ago by a counselor named Laura Trice. In it, she talks about how vital it is to hear and give praise—and yet, people are often very hesitant to ask for it. She says that, sometimes, the most authentic way to express gratitude is to ask people what kind of praise they need to hear, as well as to tell others the areas in which we need more affirmation. This goes against our instincts, right? It’s a challenge in vulnerability. But Trice suggests, “Be honest about the praise that you need to hear. What do you need to hear? … Go home and ask those questions, and then help the people around you.”

Everybody deserves to be both a recipient and a giver of these simple words: “Thank you.”

Whatever your circumstances are today, you can get that cycle of gratitude going in your own life. It doesn’t have to be a holiday; it doesn’t have to take place around an autumnal centerpiece; it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just start saying thank you. For the roof over your head, and the shoes on your feet, and the food on your plate—say thank you. For the counsel you’ve received from a co-worker, a spouse, a therapist—say thank you. For the things people are simply expected to do, day after day, and do well anyway—say thank you. For the phone or the computer you are reading this on—say thank you. For the long-distance friend who somehow always knows when to text you—say thank you. For the book that changed your life, and the pet that is always excited to see you, and the tutoring session from the classmate who owed you nothing, and the unexpected dollars in the tip jar, and the parent who is trying their absolute hardest, and the stranger who said, “No, after you,” and the sun that somehow, no matter what, slowly and gently wakes the world up each morning—say thank you.

Say thank you.

And then, see how that starts coming back around to you—and maybe ask for it from time to time. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m doing my best here. Did you notice? I’m growing, I’m trying, I’m moving forward—and I’d love your encouragement along the way.”

If you’ve gotten this far into this blog post, we’d also like to say thank you. Thanks for supporting TWLOHA and believing that people can be more, can get better, can work together. We’re grateful you’re a part of this community we talk so much about. And happy thanks-giving.

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Comments (4)

  1. Jackie

    I didn’t grow up with a real “male figure” or a perfect mom. I always found my mom crying on my shoulder verses me crying on hers when I was hurt. When I was younger I cried myself silently to sleep when I heard my mom and step father arguing. Even though I had a step dad he was hardly around to be a “father”. In 7th grade they got divorced and I was so confused. Also very hurt because from that point on my environment changed. I lost most of my friends growing up outside of school and inside of school. I began self harming and pushed everybody away a lot of the times. I began high school bit rough because I went to two high schools in freshman year. I barely talked in school and I was sinking into deep depression. It took me overdosing right before my college freshman year to really realize I was in deep. A year later I became a mom and I know a young one in fact(falling into “statistics”).

    Although I didn’t grow up in the perfect environment and it seems that my college degree maybe delayed a bit with the trials of being a young mom, I am not going to give up. Also that I have a voice and I can use it so that I can get help and be the person I really am meant to be. I know I am not perfect but I really am hopeful for my future. I like to be thankful for the experiences that I went through because I can learned from them. Thankful for the male father figure that I do have through my best friend. He helped me when I didn’t have money or food. Thankful for my mom letting me stay in her house until I get myself situated financially. Thankful for my friends who ask how I am doing. Thankful for another chance at life. Thankful for my beautiful daughter who reminds me what life is about and it’s about enjoying and appreciating the simple things.

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  2. Anonymous

    Thank you for this blog post. It’s just what I needed (: The work of TWLOHA is amazing, thank you for your incredible vision and life-changing ideas (:

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  3. Seth Andrew

    You know ironically Thanksgiving day was my Birthday, I am 19 and well I was thankful for living the year out pretty stable enough to share it now.

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  4. Ryan

    Thank you Ashlyn, for this beautifully written blog post. This year, I truly appreciated what it means to be thankful especially for what you have identified as “the parent who is trying their absolute hardest.” Today on Thanksgiving, I woke up to the idea that I am so unfathomably thankful for my dad, who does everything in his power to try to help me attain my dreams. Right now, that would be the fact that in the past year he has helped me through the application and financial process of making my dream to study abroad come true, which I will depart for starting January 1st. I finally took the time to actually come out and tell him, “I am so incredibly grateful for you in my life, and encouraging me to aim high and be the most me I can be.” I’ve never felt more thankful for him and this post just reminds me that, it shouldn’t just take Thanksgiving for him to be reminded of that.

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