That time of year is here when a little “gobble gobble” enters every session. Songs about eating and turkeys and being thankful abound as everyone prepares for the next in the cold-weather holiday line-up, Thanksgiving. Social conversations often include travel plans, dinner preparations and even the occasional recipe exchange. Sharing traditions with each other can ground us in our happy memories, and sometimes offer new ideas to make the holiday special this year. 

     Between work, school, church, and more, by the time we get to the dinner table on Thanksgiving we’ve been asked what we’re thankful for enough times that we have a short list to draw from when we’re officially asked on The Day. With my children, I’ve actually had them write down their list, so when we’re sharing around the table they can cross an item off if someone else said it. That way they have something new to offer when it’s their turn. This is a great learning experience for the children and helps deal with some of the social anxiety of the moment. But as an adult, sometimes I need to be careful not to just whip out a platitude of an answer – “Who, me? I’m thankful for family, friends, and good food”, and instead take a minute and ponder true gratitude. Most people, I think, see thankfulness and gratitude as synonyms. But what if they’re not quite the same? The Swiss philosopher Henri-Frederic Amiel put it this way:

 “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”

     When thinking about gratitude as an act stemming from my feeling or expression of thanks, I need to reconsider how grateful I am. I say I’m grateful for my husband, but did my actions show that when I yelled at him to hurry out to the car because we were late? I say I’m grateful for my friends, but when I don’t touch base with them for weeks just because my life got busy – am I really? I say I’m grateful for good food, but leave perfectly good lettuce to rot in my fridge, waste other groceries, and neglect to share with those I know could use a home cooked meal. My thankfulness often falls short of gratitude. 

     Even with my internship experience, I frequently say that I am so grateful for the opportunity. And I truly am thankful, but how can I express my gratitude? I can show my gratitude by implementing what I am learning, doing my figurative and literal homework, giving 110% of myself each session, and living in such a way that none of my supervisors’ guidance is lost on me. I can truly use the gift I’m being given to show my appreciation and gratitude. 

     Lest you think I’m crashing the holiday party by trying to think too hard, let me assure you, Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday of all as it celebrates the love and support of family and friends and counting our blessings. In times of abundance and in the leaner times, I have always been able to find things to be thankful and grateful for. This year is no exception. However, I am thankful this year for things that haven’t always made my top ten list. 

  1. I’m thankful for my car that allows me to drive to Jackson every day. 
  2. I’m thankful for my evening job that provides the gas money for that drive. 
  3. I’m thankful to my husband for stepping up and becoming the default parent during my internship. 
  4. I’m thankful for my supervisors and other people I work with everyday that are patient and kind with me. 
  5. I’m thankful for the candy bowl in the staff area that has rescued me a couple times when I forgot to bring lunch. 
  6. I’m thankful for all the amazing humans I’ve gotten to meet through music.
  7. I’m thankful for the hard things that challenge my comfort zone and force me to grow both professionally and personally.
  8. I’m thankful for my commute, so I can emotionally process before seeing my family. 
  9. I’m thankful for sleep – every hour I can get.
  10. I’m so thankful for music –  for its enjoyment, for its powers of connection, healing and growth, for its endless variability, for its magic.

     I aspire to be truly grateful for all the things I’m thankful for this year. Whether our blessings come from other humans, the Earth, or a benevolent Power beyond we all have life and of course music, to be thankful for. To finish, I’d like to quote the chorus of the song that I’ve been singing with some friends here in session, 

“I’m grateful for the sun, shining down on everyone. I’m grateful for the songs that we sing, and the love that the music brings.”