Always thank God. Thanksgiving may have been instituted by President Lincoln in 1863, but the act of giving thanks dates back to the beginning of time. Adam and Eve; Noah; Moses; David (not me); Jesus; pilgrims; early leaders of this country; Lincoln (in the midst of the worst war our country endured); and in reading the morning paper today - our friends and neighbors rebuilding from Super storm Sandy area also giving thanks. Join them. Be thankful - praise God!
Prepare to serve. It's a ritual of this holiday to prepare, or help prepare, a family meal. As you get ready for that, thank those gathered around you for being in your life (you don't know how long they will be).
Prepare a memory. A friend of mine writes special notes to each person gathered in their home for the holiday. You might have another tradition - even if it's everyone falling asleep in front of the football game after the big meal.
Yield to temptation. In this case that means, ditch the diet! Have an extra roll, enjoy dessert, drink a non-diet drink. The pilgrims and native Americans (although that wouldn't have existed then) didn't gather around tofu and diet Coke.
Take your time. Since Thanksgiving seems to be morphing into Black Friday Eve before our eyes, try to stop and play a board game, or work on a puzzle together. Ask grandparents where they grew up and what Thanksgiving was like when they were children. Just yesterday, I learned the story of a gentleman who grew up in North Dakota and traveled much of the country in his profession and service to our country. You never know what stories you'll hear. Ask your parents how they met - it might be fun to watch them tell the story.
Help your neighbors. While we generally take a moment in giving thanks to recognize the opportunity to help others - make it a part of your tradition. It can be simple, like providing food for a pantry; or involved, and invite some folks to join your gathering if they aren't able to go home for the holiday. Take a trip to a retirement community, assisted living, or skilled care facility and bring some holiday good cheer.
Ask for action. Talk to your family while they are together what they want do to as a family at Christmas to help others. Dream a little, make a plan, and help change a life.
Notice the neighborhood. Be a stealthy good Samaritan, but look now for those you can help when the first snow falls. Do it quietly, and you'll enjoy your work as much as the recipient appreciates it getting done.
Know the songs. Sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong! There are hundreds of seasonal anthems (and now that it is Thanksgiving, it is OK to play and sing them) out there, be sure you know a few to sing along.
Say thank you. Yes, I know that's implied on this great holiday, but don't imply it - say it! Thank your parents, your siblings, the person who helps you every day at the convenience store, the police and fire fighters, and those who make your life easier.
Go to church. You can thank God at your home, but wouldn't it be nice to go to His house? Enter into His house with Thanksgiving.
Initiate random giving. Purchase a meal or dessert for someone you don't know at a restaurant; pay the toll for the car behind you; or find another situation where you can start a domino chain of giving help and thanks.
Vary your routine. Get out of your rut, order something different, look people in the eye, say hello, and thank them for their service.
Invite someone over. In every community, there are people who don't have family nearby - be their family this holiday season.
Never say never. There were things already in 2012 you never dreamed of, and there will be more before the year is out. As Joaquin Andujar once summed it up it one word, 'youneverknow.' (He pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980s.)
Give generously. While times have been difficult for many - it doesn't take a long look to see the abundant blessings around us. When you share from your blessings to help others - it's one of the best ways to say thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving -
with a special thanks to family, close friends, and those serving our country!