Thursday, November 26, 2020

What I've Learned About Giving Thanks

Here we are, once again, doing our best to celebrate Rob and Tammy's favorite holiday - Thanksgiving.  If you were able to enjoy a holiday meal and are now feeling too full to move, it's a great time to do a little Thanksgiving reading.  Not only will we offer our annual Thanksgiving blog post, we'll also offer links to prior year posts on the topic for those who still don't feel like getting up just yet!

Thanks Requires Effort

Let's just recognize the elephants in the room and move on from there, shall we?  The pandemic has gotten worse.  People are being stupid about politics and about taking sides.  It has been difficult.  I've said it and I've acknowledged it.

And, so what?  Every year brings trials and worries.  Some years seem worse than others and some years we handle it better than others.  Certainly, there have been many big and difficult things for us to deal with of late and they won't just go away until we actually deal with them.  What makes it worse is our human tendency to accentuate the negative and give so much more weight to the one bad thing that happened in a day than the ten good things in the same time span.

If you want to be grateful - you have to put some conviction into it!

"If gratitude were easy, it would not be nearly so wonderful and fulfilling as it is when we work to give meaningful thanks." (from 2017's Thanksgiving post)

Easy gratitude is cheap and cheap gratitude does not last.  It might feel good for a few seconds, but it sure won't take much to tear it down and cover it up with a single negative moment.

Gratitude vs Taken for Granted

I appreciate the concept of a holiday set aside for giving thanks (at least that's how I see Thanksgiving's purpose) because I think it is critical that we all force ourselves to recognize the things that benefit us on a regular basis.  Things that we take for granted - things that we should NEVER take for granted.  But, because of their consistent presence, we still do - because we are humans.

Who are the people in your life that you benefit from their presence on a regular basis?  What are the things, places, organizations and services that you often use and your life is better because they exist?  What about the moments that you experience, the artistry you have observed or the natural wonders you have seen?

Did you see a sunset recently?  I mean - have you really looked at a sunset?  Appreciate and give thanks.

Did someone say 'Thank you' as you held a door open - and really mean it?  Appreciate and give thanks.

Was somebody at the --fill in the blank-- office willing to listen to your complaint and then do their best to fix it?  Appreciate and give thanks (even if you were grumpy at the time). 

Stop looking for the bogey man and start looking for the grace, love and goodwill that we can experience once we stop trying to throw dirt over it all.

In our case, we need to slow down a little so we can acknowledge the good things.  Like so many of you, our hurry to get everything we're supposed to do done winds up burying the things we should be grateful for...

In 2016, we wrote:

"... we sometimes work so hard at trying to do the things we think are right and necessary to fulfill our customers' trust that we may not be transmitting to you how honored we are to be able to work for you.  We give thanks for all of the fine people who support our farm by buying our products.  Thank you for being understanding when things don't go quite as we planned and thank you for telling us when you are pleased.  Those little nuggets are fuel that burns for days, weeks, months and years on our farm."

Tammy and I are grateful that we have had the opportunity to serve so many good people over the years.  We hope you have never felt that we take you for granted.  But, if you have felt that way, please rest assured that we work, every day, to remember - and to give thanks for you.

And if you are family or friends that sometimes feel as if we keep speeding by as we run from one task to another?  We also remember you on a daily basis and we are so pleased that you still are willing to admit that you know us!

Grace and Courtesy
Just last year, I wrote a paragraph that really speaks to me today:

"Grace and the courtesy it entails are necessary because it is difficult to show true gratitude when there is a lack of civility.  Grace implies tolerance for differences and acknowledgement that we don't hold all of the answers.  I shudder to think how bad things would be if it were all left up to me.  This is not just about manners, even though good manners are a good place to start.  This is about offering understanding and forgiveness and accepting understanding and forgiveness offered."

To be honest, last year's Thanksgiving post is one of my favorites and I was tempted to re-post it with edits.  But, that felt easy (see my first point) - so I guess I didn't think I should do that!

I continue to work on how I offer grace to others and to myself.  I realize that some people conclude that grace is essentially to "let something that troubles you go."  The extreme seems to be that you should forget whatever it was.  I don't see it that way.  I still believe you should remember because that is part of your experience and remembering can help shape you to be a better person.  But, I also believe that grace is to let the part go that prevents you from being kind, being better, and recognizing the positives for which you should be thankful. Grace gives you the ability to move forward and grow into the person you were always meant to be.

There Are Still Miracles

We short-change ourselves when we convince ourselves that we need miracles with a capital "M," a giant, blinky sign and a supporting marching band complete with baton twirlers.  Heck, I think most of us think miracles need to be ALL capital letters and a chorus of angels bigger than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  

In 2014, I wrote that "the very act of being farmers gives us a front row seat to the miracle of life.  If you don't think it is a miracle, then I challenge you to watch something grow from a seed to a full plant."

I think it is mistake to think that miracles are something that happen TO us.  Instead, I think we might be better off if we consider miracles something we plant and nurture until they reach their full power and strength.  It's a slow process that just might encourage us to take them for granted.  The process may even lead us to expect the wrong thing and we may even become disappointed, so we have to show some grace, let it go and use the experience to become better versions of ourselves.

I think now is a good time to grow some miracles:

Next Steps

Sure.  It's the Genuine Faux Farm Thanksgiving Post.  It is full of grand thoughts and beautiful and, hopefully, compelling ideas.  Lots of pretty words and an attempt at using a soapbox to make a tiny difference by encouraging one or two other people.  But, can we identify some specific actions we can take when we are feeling overwhelmed, upset and angry?  

I don't always know those answers.  But, I can offer some thoughts that work for me sometimes.

"Each day, we try to take a little time to recognize something that makes us see value in our surroundings.  Rainbows.  Friendly and extremely "helpful" cats.  A droplet of water on a broccoli leaf.  A few moments with family.  Another five pounds of spinach.  A note from someone telling us they appreciated something we did.  An opportunity to go help someone with a task of some sort.  A beautiful piece of music.  Or a flower.  Or some time with our best friend."  2015 Thanksgiving post.

Miracles start with a seed.  Miracles require caretaking.  Miracles grow because we put effort into them.

And for that, I give thanks.


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