Holidays and guilt often go hand in hand. Thanksgiving does its part. If you have turkey and all the trimmings, you feel guilty about being stuffed especially when mom reminds us that children are starving right on our doorstep in Appalachia and in Africa. Then in churches, “give thanks to the Lord in everything” is quoted. “Everything”? Like war, child abuse, starvation, domestic violence, lost your job…? That’s guilt tripping full time. And what if you don’t feel like giving thanks, but feel pressured to celebrate? After all, some old white guy President back in history issued a proclamation and we’ve been stuck with it ever since. So you have more guilt for not measuring up to what it means to be a patriotic American.

A big part of the problem is that many people have difficulty saying thank you. As an illustration, let’s look at how different people feel then they receive a compliment. When someone says something nice and positive about you. You should smile and say, “Thanks, I appreciate that’, and both feel good and positive. When you accept a compliment with thankfulness and grace, You have brought more good into the world, you have created goodness. Lord knows, we can use all the goodness we can get in these troubled times.

However, even with compliments, guilt raises its ugly head. Many people don’t feel good about themselves. They don’t feel worthy of compliments. The negative has eaten them up. They defend their unhappiness in at least five ways.

REFUSAL: “Oh that old coat? I’ve had it for years. It’s ready for the Opportunity Store” or, “I really messed up that song. I was terrible”, or, “I appreciate the compliment, but don’t thank me. The turkey was falling apart. I did an awful job. I’ve about lost my appetite.”

SELF DEFENSE: “You can’t be talking to me” and the other person looks down shrugs the shoulders and changes the subject, “Pass the gravy please.”

PING-PONG: Another way of dealing with the discomfort of receiving a compliment is to keep score. “You really like my new hair tint?” and she suddenly feels obligated to say something nice in return, “You have a new nail color, don’t you?” so quickly that it sounds fake and artificial. It”s nice to respond to a compliment with a compliment, but it’s not necessary.”  EGO TRIP: A man gets compliments on his new truck and says, “It’s loaded. Chevys are the best made. I don’t know why you drive a Ram. It’s junk. Get a Silverado.”

MANIPULATION: “Is he trying to butter-me-up?” “What does she want?”  She’s just being nice.” If you already feel negative about yourself, then any compliment will be seen with suspicion and questioning the motives of the other.

So, here we are around the festive table. It’s my turn to give my list of “Thanks”. I don’t have a “list”. I only have one thing to say, “I am thankful for all the readers of the Sun, You are te best people in the world.”

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