I love Thanksgiving. I also love the week that leads up to it. This has always been my favorite holiday and favorite time of year.
I love Thanksgiving not just because it focuses on food, family, faith, and football, but also because it is steeped in gratitude. Gratitude is always in the air at this time of year. I can feel it, I can sense it, and I love expressing it to the people in my life. I also love being on the receiving end of it.
I was in New York City this past week co-hosting TODAY, and when I went to leave the studio on Friday, I found two notes on the makeup counter with my name on them. One was a belated birthday card signed by so many people who I had spent the week with. That touched me so much. The other was a card containing a heartfelt and moving note from my friend Hoda. Her words instantly brought me to tears and expanded my heart.
People can have that impact on other people. It’s humbling when someone expresses their love or friendship, or takes the time to make you feel seen and safe. It’s a priceless gift for which there is no Black Friday deal.
As we head into this week of gratitude, I want to say that I am grateful for the week I just had in New York. I am grateful for the love that was bestowed on me there. I’m also grateful to the House of Representatives for passing the Build Back Better bill. This move is a big step for both the president and the people of this country who are struggling with childcare costs, prescription drug costs, and so on. I’m grateful to the president for his persistence and spirit to work with each political party. I’m grateful to Speaker Pelosi for never wavering and for showing that experience matters, because it does. I’m hopeful that the Senate will have the same heart and pass this historic bill in the coming weeks.
I’m also grateful that the FDA and CDC have authorized the COVID booster shot for all adults, just in time for the holidays. And, I’m grateful that my brother Bobby and his family are able to make the trip to Los Angeles to share Thanksgiving with me.
Gratitude is one of those spiritual practices that we all know enhances our lives. That’s why I wake up every morning to my gratitude practice. It centers me and grounds me in the here and now. I remind myself every morning that I am blessed to be able to put my feet on the floor and to be alive. I am grateful to have a roof over my head and food on my table. I am grateful that I am healthy and that my family is in a healthy space. I know that all of this is what matters most in life, and that’s why I love that this week seems to celebrate those truths.
I can exist in this space of gratitude for my own blessings, and also hold space for the many among us who are less fortunate. Every year at this time, my kids and I participate in our church’s community Thanksgiving meal. My pastor Monsignor Torgerson makes sure that everyone who needs a meal gets one. I’m so grateful to have him in my life. I’m grateful that he is a pastor who preaches without condemnation and without judgment to all of us who are both sinners and saints in progress.
I go to church to be lifted up and to be reminded of Jesus’s teachings, which are to love your neighbor as yourself and to be compassionate, loving, kind, and forgiving. Those are the qualities that I’m hoping will be on full display at my Thanksgiving table this year and throughout this holiday season. One of my favorite songs is the Idina Menzel song “At This Table.” The lyrics are so moving. I believe the song beautifully describes the kind of table we can each set over the days and weeks to come. It can be a table where all is forgiven. A table where all are welcome. A table where anyone can pull up a chair and feel welcome. That is what each of us can do this coming week. Practice inclusion, acceptance, and forgiveness.
No family is perfect. No family is without its stuff. But if we practice gratitude for who we are when we gather together, then we will be in a grateful space. My wish for you this week is to see the world through “gratitude eyes.” I hope you can experience the world with a heart steeped in gratitude, and with a mind open to the idea that all around you there are things to be grateful for. Trust me, there are.
How you experience the world is within your heart and your mind. So this week, see the wonderful things around you. See the good around you. See the possibilities around you. Then, give thanks for that beautiful vision.
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