Onset of fall brings thoughts of Thanksgiving

The focus of the very first presidential proclamation ever issued in this nation was about giving thanks. It was President George Washington, in fact, who first proclaimed our national day of thanks.

Now, we all know we don’t need a proclamation penned some 228 years ago to tell us we should give thanks for the wonderful gifts we have here in America. We know those gifts are plentiful — and while the tangible and physical possessions help bring pleasure, I’m not speaking specifically about those items. Rather, I believe it’s the relationships, the love, emotions and the simple pleasures that generate the most gratitude and comfort.

Celebrity Oprah Winfrey has gained much notoriety for advocating the power and pleasure of being grateful. To help her stay focused, she maintains a written “gratitude journal.” For years she has used that daily journal to record things — often the little things — for which she is grateful. It includes entries like “Eating cold melon on a bench in the sun,” or “A long and hilarious chat with Gayle about her blind date with Mr. Potato Head.”

No doubt, Oprah’s gratitude journal started out looking at the bigger things in life — for sure this successful and famous celebrity has lots to be thankful for — but the rule she uses is that you can’t use the same thought more than once. With that in mind, it wouldn’t take long to drill down to life’s simple pleasures. Oprah has said the journal keeps her centered, focused and of course, grateful.

I’d advocate the same journey into gratitude, and the Tribune Chronicle has just the perfect place to begin.

We at the Tribune Chronicle today begin our annual tradition of inviting readers to write and tell us what you are thankful for, all in honor of Thanksgiving. Then we take those submissions and print them beginning on Thanksgiving Day.

We’ve been doing this for decades, and we receive hundreds of submissions each year. We try to run every single one of them as a way to share wonderful, heartwarming thoughts from everyday people, and through the years we have printed these thankful thoughts from tens of thousands of readers. Given the sheer volume, we ask readers to keep their thoughts simple and restrict them to about 25 words or less.

We always encourage teachers to invite their classes to submit thankful thoughts, and the submissions from our most tiny readers usually elicit laugh-out-loud responses in the newsroom. Other, often more thought-provoking, submissions come from readers who are thankful for things like new jobs, or their health or their children. Still others come from people who are going through exceptionally tough times, but are able to share uplifting thoughts by maintaining a strong appreciation for the people who care about them and the good things that have happened to them this year.

I enjoy spending my Thanksgiving evening — after my kids run in the Turkey Trot race, I stuff and cook the turkey, and we’ve dined and watched football to our hearts’ content — reading all the submissions because they are heartwarming and brighten my day. What a great way to start off the traditional holiday season!

I encourage you, too, to take a minute and tell us what you are thankful for this year, so we can share your thoughts with all our readers and hopefully brighten a day.

Deadline this year is Nov. 10 and submissions are absolutely free. Email your thankful thoughts to Givingthanks@tribtoday.com or clip a coupon appearing frequently in the Tribune Chronicle and send it by mail to “Giving Thanks,” Tribune Chronicle, 240 Franklin St. SE, Warren, Ohio 44483. Please include your name, community and phone number (not for publication).

Who knows? Your submission just might be the first entry in a never-ending gratitude journal.