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It's Good to Give Thanks Every Day

Like many people on this long weekend I had to use extra effort to raise myself from the dinner table after our traditional Thanksgiving Day feast. I am very fortunate to share these special days with my family and friends.

The first Thanksgiving in Canada took place in 1578 in Newfoundland and it was to give thanks for the safe return of Martin Frobisher, who had found his way home from the Northwest Passage. The theme of "giving thanks" hails from that event.

In later centuries, when settlers began to make their homes in Upper and Lower Canada, Thanksgiving focused on giving thanks for a good harvest, and that is the theme that has survived to this day.

The majority of us don't have a harvest to be thankful for but each of us has many circumstances in our lives, big and small, for which we can give thanks. Some families have the tradition of going around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and having each person mention something for which they are thankful this year or in general. This is not just a nice thing to do on a special day but researchers tell us there is substantial evidence that remembering the good things in our lives promotes good mental, emotional and physical health.

This information has spawned a wave of strategies for being thankful on a daily basis, not just a few times a year. Starting children on this trend early in life can put them in the habit of recognizing the positive even when negative things happen.

Some suggestions for getting the kids (and yourself) involved in 'being grateful' are easy and fun to do. Start a scrapbook that includes all the good things that are going on with your family and fill it with small events, as well as the bigger ones that happen. The key to being grateful for life's gifts is to recognize the small, mundane events. You can also start a memory wall in your home by framing photos, kid's paintings, mementos, special awards, and anything that represents the families life together.

Many families choose to volunteer in the community as a way of celebrating what they have in their lives. It is a way of giving back. Volunteerism is down these days, so your family can really make a contribution by helping out charitable organizations.

The most important part of learning to count your blessings is to remember what you have, as opposed to what is missing in your life. Why wait for Thanksgiving to recognize your good fortune? Make it an everyday event. Create your own family ideas about how to do this together.