This week I learned that the earliest report of a recorded thanksgiving dinner in Canada dates back to 1578. English explorer Martin Frobisher and his crew shared a special meal to thank God for granting them safe passage through northern waters, making landfall in what is today called the Territory of Nunavut. The crew and captain acknowledged their gratitude around a communion table, with relief and hope shared alongside the elements of a holy meal.
It is good to remember though, that the sharing of food around a table in the spirit of thanksgiving is a legacy from 1000 years prior on this country’s soil – each time potlatches were shared, feasts were celebrated when help was provided. We humans have a universal instinct towards gathering together and giving thanks. The practice fills a deep need and makes us feel good.
But did you know that thanksgiving is not an end to the gift of gratitude; it always leads the way to more? With gratitude, our hearts open to notice what we could not see before: love and kindness, the generous spirit of another, forgiveness, a fresh start, and the possibility of a new day.
A few years back I listened to a radio interview where a kindergarten teacher was asked to name the most important thing children needed in order to do well in their first year of school. The teacher said that above all else, children needed to know the concept of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. He said children who did not understand these two things were ill-equipped to learn because they were limited to only what they had within themselves.
Of course, science bears this out. In study after study, it has been found that when we cultivate a spirit of gratitude toward another and toward God, we also receive great benefit – physically, emotionally and spiritually. We are happier.
Woven throughout scripture is a well-used litany, ‘Give thanks to God for He is good; His love endures forever.” It is well-used for a very important reason, for from the beginning of time our life is enriched when we remember what we have received – even to the breath we breathe – and when we give thanks in response.
Gratitude is the glory of humanity and it becomes the pipeline for every goodness that surrounds us.
This weekend, take the time to gather and say thanks. Be blessed.
Mary Dickau (Spiritual and Community Care)
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