When my daughter, Madison, was beginning to talk, my husband, Mark, and I found ourselves frustrated that we couldn't get her to say "thank you." She easily caught on to using "please," "excuse me" and other expressions, so we were stumped as to why she didn't pick up "thank you."
One day when I was telling my friend about Mark's and my frustration, she looked at me very matter-of-factly and said, "Maybe you and Mark aren't saying 'thank you' enough. She's picking up what she hears the two of you saying."
I was stopped cold. She was right.
This month, most of us will gather for Thanksgiving with family and friends to give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received throughout the year.
Our current Thanksgiving Day customs have their roots in the Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, when the pilgrims celebrated a three-day feast with the Native Americans. The purpose of the celebration was to give thanks for God's bounty upon the pilgrims with their first harvest.
And so today we still gather around the table every year—probably not for three days—to give thanks for God's goodness throughout the year. But the unfortunate reality is that once the turkey is eaten and everyone has gone home, oftentimes our sense of gratitude is stored away with the decorations until next year.
But it shouldn't be that way. Giving thanks is something we should do every day.
Giving thanks is an integral part of our Catholic faith. The Scriptures are filled with passages urging us to give thanks for the gifts God has bestowed upon us—"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever" (Psalm 118:1).
The celebration of Thanksgiving is a perfect reminder and opportunity for all of us to stop and think about how often we say thanks for things throughout the year. Better yet, how often do we say thanks every day? Sometimes it's not enough—as Mark and I found out.
So did we ever get Madison to start saying "thank you"? Less than a month after talking to my friend, Mark and I began making more of an effort to say "thank you" ourselves. Maddie soon followed.