You’ve probably seen a million variations of it already as we prepare to usher in the holidays next week: “Saying thanks costs nothing but means everything.” There’s an undeniable logic to this, as well as to the old trope that showing appreciation is the healthiest thing we can do. Theologian Harry Ironside once put it this way: "We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction."

If the true gift is in the giving, however, it follows that the person receiving a gift is the real hero. As we approach Thanksgiving, we should celebrate the Thankstakers, those who selflessly accept your kindnesses so that you might enjoy the benefits of your generosity. By taking advantage of your hospitality, we provide you the means with which to feel good about yourselves.

You’re welcome.

It’s easy to be the one who gives, after all. Everybody loves the people who donate blood and give clothes to the needy. But what about those who convince you to lend them your favorite sweatshirt and never give it back? Isn’t the opportunity to show your magnanimity also an act of kindness? Isn’t my stubborn refusal to pay back the money I owe you really a gift I’m allowing you to keep, each and every time you ask to get paid back? Surely that is more valuable than money!

Alas, Thankstakers are so rarely shown the gratitude we richly deserve. People could learn from the words of psychologist Dr. Rick Hanson, who once wrote that giving thanks, “... helps fill your own cup, which is good for both you and others. It keeps the circle of giving going; when someone deflects or resists one of your own gifts, how inclined are you to give again? It draws you into a deep sense of connection with life.”

By refusing to give in to the temptation of not accepting your gifts, we Thankstakers thanklessly connect you to the Circle of Life (thank you, Elton John). We are the ones on the front lines who reaffirm that there will always be someone willing to take what you’re giving. Rather than playing Lucy and pulling the football away just as Charlie Brown is about to kick it, we emulate Snoopy and hold out our bowls for more.

Thankstakers are needed now more than ever. In a world full of resentments, anxieties and fear, we are a shining beacon of hope… or maybe an endless crater of greed. I don’t know, I was never very good at paying attention. Regardless, you need us. Without us, there’d be no one to be nice to! Much like the Pilgrims, who allowed the Native Americans to give up their ancestral lands without expecting so much as a “Thanks for the pox-infested blankets” in return, we didn’t get into this for personal gain... except for all the stuff we get out of it.

As you and your family settle in around the Thanksgiving Day table, don’t forget to reach out to those of us who make your self esteem possible. Also, if I could borrow fifty bucks to get some wireless headphones on Black Friday, it’d be a win-win. (No need to thank me, though; the pleasure’s all mine.)

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