Hundreds of years ago the American version of Thanksgiving began as a celebration in which to express gratitude. And though its traditions have changed during those centuries, at its core the day reminds us of the value of recognizing and being grateful for the good in our lives.
Among that good are our relationships with other people.
Some people practice gratitude daily. They are the ones who flash a brilliant smile, who say "please," who send notes of thanks. They are the ones who express appreciation for a colleague's contribution to a monthly report, for a partner's management of a domestic issue, for a neighbor's offer to assist with a backyard project. No matter how busy they are, they remain unfailingly attentive to the dozens of small kindnesses they receive and to the need to thank those who extend such kindnesses.
But many of us do not so consistently express our appreciation. We have too much responsibility and too little time; we are rushed and hurried. The resulting stress leads to impatience, inattention, and, sometimes, rudeness. It happens in the workplace, in the classroom, in every sort of public place and in many private ones. Yet how we treat others is in itself an act of communication, one that has the power to affect all human interaction.
Showing thankfulness translates as regard and respect. It's a way of behaving that smoothes and strengthens relationships. Expressions of gratitude acknowledge the esteem in which we hold others, acknowledge their significance, acknowledge the effect they have on our own lives. Such expressions matter in all relationships - a brief exchange with a barista, a meeting with colleagues or managers, a discussion with a parent.
Words are a part of it: both oral and written, both content and tone. So are actions - giving public recognition, remembering special occasions, extending congratulations for achievements. Bringing an article on a topic of interest to a co-worker, noticing solid efforts, remarking on skills and talents - each sends a message of thanks and appreciation, a message that enriches both sender and receiver, for it acknowledges value.
By this time tomorrow, most Americans will be well into the Thanksgiving Holiday. Some will be traveling; others will be at their jobs as usual. Many will be preparing for family gatherings; others will be engaged in projects designed to bring relief to those in need. We at ECG anticipate that your Thanksgiving will be a good one, and to it we add our own thanks, our appreciation of you and your many kindnesses, and our hope that gratitude, given and received, is the bright golden thread that weaves the day's hours into joy.