For the Pouteaux home, thanksgiving is often a mix of frantic planning to host our extended family and to prepare a few meals together. It’s a mad rush through the kitchen. Where is the sour cream? How long has the turkey been in the oven? Did anyone see the other thingy that attaches to the blender? Yet for all the mess we make in the kitchen, we have fun because we are together again. It’s chaos and love wrapped into one big gathering.
Here is what makes thanksgiving meals with friends and family meaningful: it is built on the foundation of gratitude and appreciation. When we gather to express our thankfulness and speak aloud about what we see and celebrate in others, it changes us and those around us.
The CEO of Cambell Soup Company knows about the power of appreciation. He is known for going out of his way to be thankful. Over the years he has sent out 30,000 hand written notes of appreciation to his staff. He said, “I let them know that I am personally paying attention and celebrating their accomplishments.” Some believe that this posture of gratitude has been central to the health of their organization.
Not every place has a culture of appreciation and gratitude. Recognizing the good in others and celebrating with them is not common. It is something that has to be nurtured regularly and it takes a commitment to becoming attentive to others to do so. But compared to a posture of cynicism, being thankful is hardly any work at all. In fact, when we live with a list of un-met expectations we rob ourselves of the joy of seeing the beautiful life we’ve been given. When we set aside our list of expectations and begin to appreciate what we have, everything looks hopeful.
Some of the best times of my life were seasons when I was actively going out of my way to give thanks. Each note of thanks or appreciation often leads to more: a conversation, a coffee, or a meal. When gratitude is at the heart of our community, new life is often not far behind.
We all have the ability and capacity to transform our home, neighbourhood, or workplace with appreciation. It is easy to express criticism but a posture of appreciation and gratitude will always go further. Gratitude can make foes into friends and turn the whole story around.
What if Chestermere was known for gratitude and appreciation? What if, in the midst of the chaos and rush and messiness of life in the neighbourhood we found ourselves building a new foundation. What if at our core we were the community that knew how to say thank you, knew how to look for things to celebrate, and realized in the most profound ways that we go further with appreciation and gratitude. Imagine if cynicism was rare.
Well now, that would certainly be something worth being thankful for.