Thanksgiving Day is a time of food, fun, and family gathered around the table and, later, a fire
you have started in the fireplace. Thanksgiving Day is also traditionally a time of thankfulness for the things we have. But not everything we are grateful for is
something we have. Sometimes we are most thankful that some things we no longer have.
Most of us are thankful for our family and friends, for abstractions
such as love and peace, for kindnesses of others, for opportunities we have, and even for consumer products we own. Having an
annual day of Thanksgiving where we "count our blessings" makes us both grateful and humble.
Can we be thankful for things we no longer have? Sure! Aren't you glad you no longer have
that extra 10 pounds, that addiction to tobacco, or that bad habit you worked so hard to break? Some can be grateful for a disease in remission or cured, a troubling time in their lives
behind them, a bitter resentment abated, or a credit card debt or mortgage paid off.
We can even be surprisingly grateful when some of life's smaller nuisances are a thing of the
past. Maybe the cluttered closets, the weedy flower beds, the piles of photographs waiting for
albums, the mold in the basement, or the sleepless nights of new parenting are history! Perhaps your puppy is finally housebroken, your daughter is no longer dating That Guy, and
your son no longer borrows your car.
Is there anything in your professional work life you are glad is gone? You might be thankful
that you no longer have to go for job interviews, that you will never again have to work for that jerk of a boss, that your Client from Hell has been placated, or that you have learned to
coexist with a difficult coworker.
Even children have things in their lives that they are delight are over: an angry relationship now
settled into a friendship, a difficult school topic such as fractions or penmanship mastered, an anxiety producing test now behind them.
There is an important difference between the things we are thankful for having and those we
are thanking for no longer having. Many of the former we have because of luck and grace, not
effort on our part. But the unpleasant things and situations in life rarely just go away on their
own; we usually have to work…and often have to work very hard…to lose those extra pounds, pay off those debts, kill the basement mold, or let a resentment go.
On Thanksgiving Day, Americans traditionally celebrate their bounty by consuming a special
feast and giving thanks for all the blessings they have.
But this Thanksgiving Day, create a new tradition of thankfulness in your home. Give each
Thanksgiving dinner guest a small piece of paper such as an index card and a pencil or pen. Ask them to write down one thing they are delighted they no longer have. You might give
them your own example or ones from this article to get the ball rolling.
After dinner, as all gather around a welcoming fire in the fireplace, encourage your family and
guests to take turns tossing their cards into the fireplace. Some will want to savor what they
no longer have by reading their cards aloud before disposing of them in the fire, but no one has to read aloud before saying a final, joyous farewell
to something they are delighted is no longer in their lives!