Jackie Gingrich Cushman

After more than a year of economic trials and troubles, we can see hints of better days ahead, a transition from shock and hopelessness to thankfulness and gratitude for what we do have.

Our faith in a Creator supports our nation's optimism. In a more tumultuous time, after the Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln declared a day of Thanksgiving. His proclamation in 1863 acknowledged "the gracious gifts of the Most High God." Lincoln invited his fellow citizens to set apart and observe "a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

Lincoln did not ask Americans to be distraught over the more than 600,000 lives lost during the Civil War, nor distressed over the damage to buildings and commerce. Instead, in a time of war, he asked the American people to acknowledge the gracious gifts of God.

During our time of trials, should we not do the same? Being thankful, even for small things, allows us to be receptive and open. We are acknowledging that there are good things in life. When we are upset and demanding, we focus on the bad and shut out the possibilities of good, gifts and hope.

We should remember our duty as noted by Washington "to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God and to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor."

By giving thanks for what we have, we will begin to be able to dream of what might be. This optimism will then give way to action and results.

This year, I asked many of my friends and family to share with me what they were thankful for. The majority of the answers cited health, family and friends. A few included the ability to work in areas they love. What I did not hear was thankfulness for dreams.

We should be thankful for dreams.

By being thankful, we can relax and be open to the wider, more meaningful patterns and possibilities that emerge daily in our lives.

We can imagine what could be.

For that, let us give thanks.

And let us continue to have faith and dream of what could be.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.