This November I find myself having difficulty wishing others “Happy Thanksgiving!”
It’s not because I myself am not thankful and am projecting that attitude outward—I most certainly am grateful and appreciative. But with my increasing awareness about the other story about Thanksgiving not taught to many generations of Americans, myself included, my heart aches over the oppression and injustice heaped upon Native Americans.
The mainstream version of the Thanksgiving story paints a picture of courageous, Christian settlers, braving the perils of the New World and with the help of some friendly Natives, finding a way to make a new life for themselves. But for many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning and protest since it commemorates the arrival of settlers in North America and the centuries of oppression and genocide that followed.
Organized by the United American Indians of New England in 1970, the fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving) is recognized as the National Day of Mourning for Native Americans and their allies. It’s a day of remembrance, spiritual connection, and protest against the racism and oppression that Native Americans have suffered and continue to experience today.
While some Native Americans have chosen to reject the Thanksgiving holiday entirely, many embrace the positive messages of the holiday and choose to put aside thoughts about the complex history of this day. This is because the idea of giving thanks is central to Native heritage and culture, and in this way, Thanksgiving is simply a chance to appreciate the good things of life like family, community, and the riches of the land.
It is my prayer that individuals who are fear-based and crying out for love but project their insecurity into acts of racism, oppression, and violence towards a variety of groups (based on race, gender identification, faith tradition, etc.) get the help and love they need—and wake up! We are all humans; we bleed the same red blood, we all yearn for love and appreciation. We are One.
On to the topic of the uplifting attitude of gratitude…
My dear spiritual coach recently noted how she not only feels gratitude, but appreciation as well. She said they felt different but had some difficulty using words trying to explain the difference. It got me thinking, and into research mode. Of course, it was no coincidence that I came upon the following Unity writing in the publication “40 Days of Thankful Living”:
“In investment terms, “appreciate” means to increase in value. We can make an investment in other people by appreciating them. They will feel better about themselves, and they will then look for ways to share their increased value with others. When we appreciate other people, we make an extra effort for them; we try a little harder to help them achieve their goals.”
– I am Thankful for the Power of Appreciation, Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Below is a summary of what I found through my research that resonates with me:
- Appreciation is acknowledging the value and meaning of something: an event, a person, a behavior, an object, and, feeling a positive emotional connection to it. Appreciation involves both cognition and affect.
- Gratitude is more affective than appreciation. It is being aware of a benefit received (gifts, perceived efforts, sacrifices/actions on one’s behalf) and feeling thankful to someone for it. It is a positive emotion directed to a benefactor for some perceived, intentional benefit.
On this fourth Thursday of November, and every day, I am grateful and express appreciation to all beings and to Spirit for my breath, my life, and my blessings. May you do the same, knowing Love is all there is, and We are One.
In the song Thankful, we are reminded that even though the world needs so much more, there is still so much to be thankful for. This inspirational song was composed by Carole Bayer Sager, David Foster, and Richard Page, and recorded by Josh Groban in 2007.