Grateful versus Thankful

And amid all the chaos, Thanksgiving rolls on in as if we aren’t in the middle of a global pandemic. Thanksgiving. As in giving thanks for things that have been given. I’m thankful right now for what hasn’t been given to me – COVID-19.

As I was cooking for my family I started thinking about a trend that began some ten years or so ago. I think Oprah might have been the one to corner the market early on in gratitude journaling—a daily reflection on what we are grateful for.

And I began to make a distinction between the two words gratitude and thankfulness. Honestly, I’ve used them interchangeably most of the time; but they are two completely different things. Being grateful is about appreciating what you have. Being thankful implies that you are thanking someone for giving you something. Being grateful is more reflective and internal, while being thankful is more of an outward acknowledgement for receiving something—tangible or intangible.

What started out as a day of celebration for something that was “given” (I use that term ever so loosely) to our forefathers, is now one that has grown into (for many) a day of expressing our gratitude for what we have, rather than what we want, or have been given. Gratitude is an emotion while thankfulness is more of an immediate response. Thank you. To your partner for fixing dinner. Thanks so much. To someone for holding the door open for you when your hands are full.  

An action that has been done, elicits a thank you, while that same action might make you feel gratitude on a deeper level. I am grateful that I have a partner who makes me dinner. I am grateful that there are kind people in the world who still hold doors open

The difference is subtle, but it’s there. That said, maybe we should think about changing the name Thanksgiving to Gratesgiving.

Oh, and one more thing.  Putting my words into the world makes me happy. Knowing you read them makes me grateful that you are part of my life.

So, go on, get out there and practice some gratitude for the people in your life.

Happy belated Gratesgiving!

Peace and love,


Published by Ginger McGee

I am a writer and artist living in Savannah, Georgia.

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