It used to be so simple.
Back then, it was only Thanksgiving Day.
Now we have Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.
Actually, it seems to be part of a trend. Every year, the list of special days, celebrating all kinds of people and causes, grows longer. By now we have a Sibling Day, Love Your Redhead Day, and even a Tall Rabbis Appreciation Day!
(No, don’t Google that—I just made it up. But hey, it’s not a bad idea 🙂 )
It’s really wonderful to shine a spotlight on those who deserve it. Still, I always feel that there’s a little bit of a subtext to all those special days.
“Today is Thanksgiving.”
“Today is Nurse Appreciation Day.”
“Today is Mother’s Day.”
Do you see the problem here?
Today we give thanks. Today we appreciate the nurses. Today we show love to our mothers.
But what about tomorrow? And yesterday?
Now, I’m not suggesting to cancel all these special days.
But I am suggesting that we start viewing these days not as a yearly occurrence, but as an inspiration to embed those values into our daily lives.
Imagine if … on Nurse Appreciation Day we decided to make sure to always let a nurse ahead of us in the checkout line?
Or that on Sibling Day we decided to call our siblings once a week?
Or on Thanksgiving Day we decided to be more thankful each and every day?
As always, the Torah provides us with a beautiful example of how to do it.
In this week’s Parshah, we read about Jacob’s journey from his home to an unknown land. He prays to G-d to make his journey successful, and then he declares:
If G-d will be with me, and He will guard me on this way, upon which I am going, and He will give me bread to eat and a garment to wear … Then this stone, which I have placed as a monument, shall be a house of G-d, and everything that You give me, I will surely tithe to You.
Jacob isn’t saying, “I am going to be so thankful.”
Essentially, he’s saying: “I am going to make gratitude part of my life forever.” He’s finding an action, a tangible idea that he’s going to start doing on a regular basis, to express his gratitude.
There are many great ways to make gratitude a part of our lives, such as:
- Starting our day with thankfulness by reciting the Modeh Ani prayer every morning as soon as we wake up. This short but very powerful prayer expresses our gratitude to G-d for returning our soul to us and giving us a brand new day.
- Sharing our blessings with others, just like Jacob, who donated a percentage of his income to charity. This way, whenever we are endowed with financial blessings, we recognize that this is a gift from G-d.
- Saying it the way it is. Simply by saying “thank G-d” whenever we are asked how we are doing, we are elevating the conversation. Instead of it being only about us, we’re being grateful to the One who gives us life and everything that comes with it.
Happy Thanksgiving! And may G-d give us all many blessings to be thankful for!