Maybe we’ve got this whole Thanksgiving thing backwards.
Not that I’m proposing anything heretical like missing the football games or skipping the Macy’s parade or eating a tofu turkey.
I am, however, thinking about the words thanks and giving and I’m giving some thought to the emphasis we put on one versus the other.
I love to read the notes of thanks from friends and family for gifts of friendship and kindness—almost never for physical gifts—they have received. I’d even like to think I have earned some of these notes, that I have given these people something to deserve their gratitude.
If I’ve earned a note of thanks, though, it’s only by giving the other person something to be thankful for. It’s nothing more or less than the virtuous circle.
And that’s where the whole giving part of the day requires more attention. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a holiday devoted merely to being thankful.
As in most of life, the thanks should come after the giving. If I want more notes of thanks next year, more notes that make me thankful, I must give more to others in the year ahead. By making them more thankful, I’ll earn more thanks in return.
Maybe next year, we’ll all get it right.