Being thankful is a very Jewish thing. I’ve heard an opinion that some frum Jews don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because every day is Thanksgiving, and so there’s no need to set aside one specific day. It could also be because no one wants to make Thanksgiving dinner and then Shabbos a day later (I’m making traditional Thanksgiving food for Shabbos. Two birds, one stone. Or, rather, one bird, no stones…).
So how does Judaism incorporate being thankful into daily life? Well, the day starts off with gratefulness. In the morning blessings we thank G-d for a whole bunch of things which are easy to take for granted:
- the ability to make distinctions (like between night and day)
- being able to stand upright
- strength and energy to live another day
The gratefulness continues in the daily prayers. There’s a whole paragraph about being grateful in the Amidah. In it, we thank G-d for our lives, our souls, His miracles and wonders which are with us every day, every season, evening, morning and afternoon. There’s a lot to be thankful for, all the time.
Even if a person is too busy (say, taking care of little kids) to daven from a siddur, they are required to say a prayer at least once a day. The three components of such a heartfelt prayer are praise, request and thanks. So even in an improvised prayer during the day there is an element of thanks.
Sometimes it can be easier to kvetch about things which, when viewed from a different perspective, are really reasons to be grateful. How about one time today, take something which seems bothersome and find a reason to be grateful for it. For instance, being stuck in traffic can provide time to plan ahead for later in the day, or just some time to think.
If that doesn’t work for you, try just making a list of things to be grateful for. For instance, I’m thankful for this beautiful family that I’ve been blessed with, this sleeping baby on my lap, my curious toddler exploring and discovering the world, my wonderful husband. I’m thankful that my parents are able to come for the weekend. I’m thankful that I have parents that I want to come for the weekend.
What are some things that you’re thankful for (I bet you saw that one coming, didn’t you?)?