Is Thanksgiving a Jewish holiday? No. I bet you knew that.
Is giving thanks a Jewish value? Absolutely! I bet you knew that, too.
I further bet – wait, this is starting to sound like a casino, so let me change that – I am guessing that unless you belong to that small lucky group, those people who walk planet earth with an oh-so-grateful attitude, being thankful is somewhat of a struggle.
And the deeper our relationship with the one who did us a favor, the greater the struggle.
Think about that.
If someone walks over to you in the street and hands you a twenty dollars bill, you will think, “wow! That was really nice of them”!
But if it was your boss who gave you a Chanukah gift card… you might be thinking, “only twenty dollars?”
You’d be most grateful if a restaurant gave you a voucher for a free dinner.
But if it’s your spouse who makes dinner… you might realize that the food is missing salt.
You get the point.
The deeper our relationships, the greater our expectations. Those expectations make it difficult to be filled with gratitude because we always think, “yes, thank you, but what about…”.
Our relationship with G-d is where this is the most obvious.
G-d is giving us so much. Yet, we all have a long list of the things we don’t have. And this list – at least for me – makes it more challenging to be wholeheartedly grateful for what I have.
A few months ago, I read a letter by the Rebbe that gave me a new perspective on gratitude.
As usual, the published letter included only the Rebbe’s response. Reading it, however, make it clear that whoever was writing to the Rebbe was kvetching about how life was not good.
The Rebbe gently reminded them of all the good in their lives and then pointed out that the more gratitude they have, the more blessings they will have.
This made me realize that not having gratitude is actually an act of self-sabotage. I might not feel ready to give a full-hearted thank you, but if I will, I will receive much more!
So even from a self-centered point of view, giving thanks is the smart thing to do.
How is showing appreciation to G-d bring more blessings from above?
Here is a thought.
Our sages teach that G-d created everything for a reason. Nothing was made “just because.” Everything has a clear rationale and purpose for its creation.
So G-d really wants His gifts to be used.
When we show appreciation, we demonstrate to Him that we value His gifts and plan to use them. Seeing that, G-d will keep on giving us more and more blessings!
Enjoy your turkey, and may your life be filled with ever-increasing reasons to be thankful!