To the extent that I think about Thanksgiving, I mostly focus on the feast while giving little to the history and lessons behind the holiday. I’ve done this even though I’m the first to admit that it’s a lost opportunity for me as a parent. There are certain personal traits and values I wish I could emboss in the hearts, souls, and brains of my two children, and appreciation (or call it “giving thanks”) is right up there near the top. All kids whine and complain to varying degrees. That’s who they are. But as they get older, one of the great tests of maturing is the degree to which they can transform that “woe is me” instinct into a calmer and more balanced perspective of their wants and needs.
In my experience, people who live with an abiding sense of appreciation and gratitude are more likely to enjoy their lives and be more successful in every important way. And so, when my 9-year-old son was recently inconsolable about a video game that I wasn’t going to buy for him any time soon, I somehow managed to restrain myself from scolding him for being ungrateful and instead held my ground, commiserating with his pain—and then put in a gentle pitch for spending more time appreciating what he has and less time sulking about what he doesn’t. I share because it may well have been my parenting highlight of the month! How will I possibly be able to top that for Thanksgiving other than in the form of: “Hey Adam, do you appreciate the cranberry sauce?” We’ll see.
To a large degree, this magazine is a feast of appreciation as well, so naturally I hope you find a few stories you really like in this issue. If I may do some of the steering, I’d certainly start with our cover interview with the thoughtful and spirited Amanda Peet, every scrap of our big birthday package, and the wonderful work of Dr. Jane Aronson, author Rachel Adams, and music teacher Deanna deCampos.