Late yesterday afternoon we got definitive word that Wonder Bread is shutting down. Their remaining workers know today that they no longer have a job. Many other businesses, though, got through this week well enough to open up again on Monday. For those workers, today is a day to be thankful that they haven’t been laid off — yet. Others are thankful that they haven’t yet run out of money, or their home hasn’t yet been foreclosed on, or that sea levels haven’t yet risen up high enough to flood their street.
That kind of thankfulness on Thanksgiving might strike some as pretty lame, as it focuses on troubles that quite possibly are on the way soon. It is nevertheless a more powerful version of gratitude than it might appear on the surface. It gets at the heart of what the emotion of gratitude is about. In a temporal sense, gratitude arises out of the recognition that there is still time to make the transition to what comes next. To put it another way, gratitude is the opposite of the dread or panic that sets in when time has run out.
An extra few months or years to get ready for a change can make all the difference. It can transform an unwelcome change into a chance to do something new and better. It is this time to take action that matters. Whenever you take the time to feel grateful, is is a recognition that there is still time for whatever it is you are doing.