Thanksgiving--a Change of Pace, a Change of Heart

Every day is a new opportunity to appreciate your life.

BY: Devlyn Steele

 
Growing up in Manhattan was an obstacle course of speed, traffic, hustle and bustle. It was an exciting place with tons of energy. The abundance of energy pointed in a billion different directions and you could often feel alone in your individual pursuits.

Then came the magical time of Thanksgiving where the city transformed. People seemed warmer, nicer, and though the pace remained fast, it seemed to slow down. The stranger smiled as he pushed you out of his way. The cabby honked at you but left out the crass comment, and you knew things were different.

Then came Wednesday, and it seemed that everyone was on the same mission. The energy, instead of being pointed in a billion different directions, had a common purpose. You felt a connection, a bond. The smiles were everywhere and everyone wished you well on your holidays. You couldn't help feeling excited and happy.

The city changed into a town. It felt like Anywhere, U.S.A. where you knew everyone and everyone knew you. Living on the Upper West Side, Wednesday night was a special time when the parade balloons were blown up all night along side the Museum of Natural History. Traffic was gone and the people took to the streets. The shops sold hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks, and you would clasp your hands around the cup for warmth. Then you could get a peek at the magnificent balloons and everyone was one big family.

Early the next morning Central Park would be empty and quiet. In just a few hours millions would pour into the city as the nation gathered to see the magnificent Macy's parade. But in those early morning hours the world felt completely at peace to me. I felt the goodness of the hearts of my neighbors, and I felt safe.

Then the parade and crowds rolled through, and it was a celebration like no other with children perched atop their parents' shoulder clapping and gasping with amazement at the passing parade. We showed appreciation for all the high school bands from all over the country. Then we cheered for the all the familiar characters that brought us so many moments of laughter and joy. After we celebrated as a city and as a nation, it was family time. Time to gather and sneak a few bites of stuffing before the long awaited meal was served. What a time to feel good and appreciate being with each other. A time to give thanks! It was a feeling I learned well and one that has always stayed with me.

What really changes during Thanksgiving? Do the people really change?

Change your point of view and you change your life. What changes the city into a town was everyone taking on the same point of view. When large groups take on the same point of view, whether negative or positive, you feel the common energy. What transforms Thanksgiving is the abundance of positive energy. You can feel it in your bones.

It is time for all of us to change our attitudes!

Did you know that the Macy's parade was not started by Macy's? The employees of Macy's were once made up mostly of immigrants who were truly appreciative of their lives and opportunities here in the United States. All from different backgrounds, countries and religions, they gathered at 125th Street dressed as clowns and other costumes carrying balloons. They marched in celebration and gratitude to Macy's on 34th Street. 250,000 people came out to watch them and be part of the celebration of life itself.

It was such a success that Macy's fully got behind it the following year and it has been part of our tradition ever since. That was back in 1927. It's amazing how we can affect the world with our individual initiative and actions.

Yes, you can also affect your life with the actions you take. We do not need a specific holiday such as Thanksgiving to be positive and come together. Tell yourself every day, "I'm having a great day!" That means, "I want to do my best every day and look at life from the perspective of opportunities and appreciation!"

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