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Translating Thanksgiving into Thanksliving


Jo Ann Parsons is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center

As I filled in my November calendar a few weeks ago, I thought about how different Thanksgiving would be this year.

Instead of our traditional family gathering at my daughter and son-in-law’s home, we’d be going to his sister’s newly acquired vacation home at the coast. Since this year has been far from “traditional” in many ways, a change of venue for this annual celebration would be a good thing.

The death of my son John, who ended his life in April, had created a cloud of sadness over my life and also cast doubts about the thankfulness I usually feel this time of the year.

And then there’s my birthday, which is always close to, and sometimes on, Thanksgiving. This year it would be minus the “Hi mom, happy birthday” phone call from Minnesota that I always looked forward to. My attitude of gratitude had taken a leave of absence; my usual half-full glass had become half-empty; my cup was not in a state of overflowing.

Waiting for my computer to process the day’s e-mail, I picked up a book I’d randomly chosen from the shelf of “books-to-read-sometime." The book was "Discovering the Laws of Life" by John Marks Templeton. It just happened to fall open to the page titled, "Thanksgiving leads to having more to give thanks for."

In it, Templeton writes, "...Thanksgiving is a creative force that, if lived on a continuous basis and not just for one day each year, will create more good in your life and more to be thankful for. Perhaps we could call this the life of thanksliving.”

He goes on to list ways of thanksliving, but the one that spoke to me, and the one that (in his words) is the most difficult, yet the most powerful of all, “is to give thanks for your problems and challenges. By facing our challenges and overcoming them, we grow stronger, wiser and more compassionate.

"Adversity, when overcome, strengthens us... so we give thanks for the strength and knowledge that will come from it. Giving thanks for this growth ahead of time will help you to grow through — not just go through — your challenges.”

These were words I needed to read and reflect on at this particular time in my life. The more I thought about them and related them to past challenges and times of adversities in my life, the truer they became. I remembered a time several years ago when I ended my daily journal entries with five things I was grateful for that day. It was amazing that I had so very much to be thankful for and it helped shift me into a more positive attitude. I’ve started doing that again.

I like the idea of translating Thanksgiving into Thanksliving. It should be a year-around holiday — not just one day — and I’m grateful to have discovered this particular law of life from Templeton’s book. My attitude of gratitude is returning, my glass is once again half full and my cup is on the brink of overflowing….just what I needed to see me through Thanksgiving and the coming holiday season. I will be filling in my December calendar with a more positive and thankful outlook on life.