If there is one thing that has been sacrificed in our modern age of constant communication and multi-tasking, it’s this: time for reflection.
More distractions exist today than ever before. While people still become caught up in their jobs and careers, as they have for decades, there’s also a daily deluge of information on your computer, television and phone to distract you.
Too often, it leads to people losing sight of the important aspects of life, the things that truly make life worth living.
That’s why a holiday such as Thanksgiving is still so important. As cynical as we might get about Thanksgiving – there seems to be more emphasis on shopping or Black Friday these days – it remains one of the few days each year designed to focus on one of the great things in life: family.
Despite the intrusion of consumerism and shopping deals, Thanksgiving remains one of the best days of the year to spend time with loved ones – be it close friends or family or both – and reflect on your life.
Money and success can certainly bring a level of happiness. But anyone who has experienced the gifts offered with strong friendships and family ties – and the experiences you share together – will tell you those gifts are far more important than success, money, big houses or fancy cars.
The tradition of sitting together and sharing a meal remains as important today as it was long ago – maybe even more so, given how busy schedules have led many families to spend less time together, particularly over meals.
Thanksgiving is also a great time for everyone to reflect on the past year. What were some of the great moments? What caused sadness? What are your plans for the coming year? Just sharing stories – and perhaps finding the humor in the bad turns life hands all of us – can make you feel better.
And in the case of more distant family members, Thanksgiving can be one of the few times you get the chance to spend time together and catch up.
It’s worth remembering that no matter what has happened to you this year, there’s probably at least one thing for which you are thankful. Maybe you met someone who has become an important person in your life. Perhaps there was a promotion at work or a new project you find exciting.
That’s what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about – giving thanks. The best place to do that is among family and friends you love.
Those who doubt the importance of a holiday like Thanksgiving, and the opportunity it gives you to spend time with loved ones, should consider powerful advice from those far older than you.
Some of the most poignant reminders of what’s really important in life come from our elders, particularly those who have reached a point where they are losing their health and can no longer live life as they wish. Being younger and healthy gives us all a freedom that sometimes we forget we enjoy.
Nurses who work with such patients report that they hear the same regrets repeatedly. Chief among them? Those who are older and looking back on their lives wish they had worked less hard and spent more time with loved ones.
Missed birthdays, missed programs featuring their children – and yes, missed holiday gatherings – left them with feelings of regret.
That’s a powerful message. But they are not alone. Writer, filmmakers and playwrights have filled their stories with the importance of family through the years. Consider this quote from novelist Richard Bach: “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”
Take the time to enjoy Thanksgiving Day with your loved ones. When one day you look back, it’s a decision you will not regret.