THE #1 LESSON I LEARNED FROM THANKSGIVING

This year I celebrated Thanksgiving for my second time. I’m an Australian and always wondered why Americans seemed to make a big fuss out of Thanksgiving, considering that Christmas is just around the corner. Why did they need to have two big feasts so close to each other? Couldn’t you just do it all at Christmas time? Yes, I give you permission to call me ignorant. “Milly, not everyone celebrates Christmas you know?!” I love how Thanksgiving isn’t evolved around a religion. Anyone can get involved. It’s a wonderful display of humanity. Mind you, I did find out that the origins of Thanksgiving aren’t as glee as I originally thought, actually it’s a horrible celebration. However as history seems to be erased, today’s Thanksgiving has a modern day meaning, and it sure is wonderful.

Social media is worldwide. The US makes up for just 4.4% of the population, however #happythanksgiving made a top trending global hashtag on November 26 2015. What about Canada’s Thanksgiving? They have one too and it was only last month. The Americans know how to sell, and they sure know how to market a holiday! However, I don’t feel like it’s done properly.

Two of the reasons why I never thought long and hard about the meaning of Thanksgiving was because A) I didn’t want to get involved with a US holiday, and B) it was always promoted as “a holiday”. Another excuse to take time off of work, and be with your family, not that that’s a bad thing. There is also a big deal made about the day after, #blackfriday, a day to shop crazy. I still don’t understand why the two days are associated with each other. What did people actually look forward to this year? Thanksgiving or the sales the day after? The media and advertising industry definitely seem to make it 50/50, and that’s a real shame.

This Thanksgiving, I learned that actually it’s not just another excuse for a holiday and to eat turkey (or in my case, Turducken)*. Thanksgiving Day makes the perfect excuse to say thank you and mean it. I know this sounds incredibly daft and obvious, but just think about it for a moment, when was the last time you actually went out of your way and said more than just “thank you”, especially to your loved ones?

Thank you is one of the first phrases you learn not only when you start talking, but in any country with a foreign language. We know that by saying “thank you”, you’re being polite. Sometimes it’s used far too often without any real meaning. Just like the word “sorry”. Are you really sorry? And “thank you for what”?! Most of the time, we say it out of habit. When I was a kid, my dad would always ask me “How was school today?”. I’d reply with a plain ol’ “good”. “Good because… what? Tell me a story.” My dad would say. I’d moan and have to reply with something more interesting. This happened far too often, finally I got the jist and eventually he didn’t even need to ask, I would just blurt out an awesome (or bad) story about my day at school. Moral of the story is to say thank you with a purpose. No matter how important the phrase “thank you” is, it’s what comes afterwards that makes it worth something more meaningful.

So what exactly are you thankful for this year?

I am thankful for my parents for giving me the most fortunate childhood. I am thankful for my husband who believes in me like crazy. I am thankful for new friends who now feel like family whilst mine are on the other side of the world. I am thankful to leaders such as Jim Gillian for inspiring me to create. I am thankful to the people who are making the world a better place. You know who you are (even if I don’t know you!)

*Turducken is a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey!