Melissa Arca: Give thanks for people, not stuff

11/22/2012 12:00 AM

02/26/2013 8:10 PM

Thanksgiving is not the forgotten holiday. It may seem like it, being sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas. We barely have time to wipe the paint off our children's faces before the Christmas decorations start popping up.

But I love Thanksgiving. I love that my children's schools take the time to incorporate gratitude projects and Thanksgiving feasts into their busy curriculum. I love that when my kids were asked to create gratitude collages, they included people. The people they love and are thankful for.

And on this beautiful Thanksgiving morning, what matters the most to you?

That you're with family? That your children and loved ones are alive and healthy? Isn't this essentially what it comes down to: that our children are healthy and we are surrounded by people who know, love and accept us.

This is the essence of this holiday.

So breathe it all in. Unplug for today. Look around you and reconnect with your loved ones. Spend 20 minutes putting a puzzle together with your son and nephew. Join in the laugh fest that is your daughter and her three cousins creating an impromptu puppet show.

Help with the dinner preparation and try really hard not to think about Black Friday. You'll have plenty of time to shop later.

But today, just for today remember what it's really all about. It's not about stuff. It's about the people in your life. It's about your children.

How incredibly grateful you are for their health and safety. This is something I will never again take for granted. Not after what I've seen or the heartache I've witnessed over a child gone too soon.

Bask in it. Enjoy the familiarity of family. Of traditions started long ago, ones you might perhaps pass on to your own children. Tell those you love how grateful you are for their presence in your life. Try your darnedest to let go of extraneous distractions like those of the handheld variety.

Really make an effort to "see" the people in your life.

Be that model of thankfulness and gratitude that you hope to instill in your children.

And let loose, be silly, and have fun.

Today, as our little family reunites with our extended family and we gather around the kitchen joined by hands (little ones, young ones, weathered ones, and teen ones), we'll have a moment of silence and say our grace. It's a tradition started by my father-in-law several years ago and one that my 5-year-old daughter remembers and looks forward to.

We'll eat, laugh, reminisce, and plan ahead.

And it will be perfect simply because we are together.

Wishing you and your loved ones a most beautiful Thanksgiving Day.

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