“It is comforting (if not a bit scandalous) that the Bible rarely commands us to be thankful but to give thanks. I don’t know if there is a linguistic reason for that, but it helps to bring thankfulness down to a practical level. Giving thanks is an action rather than a feeling, and actions are often more finite—and easier to muster—than feelings.
I may not be able to be thankful for all of time and eternity, but I can probably manage to give thanks for a second or two for the apple I’m eating or the comfortable chair I’m sitting in. Or I can take a time-out from my frenetic impatience and say thank you to the bagger at the grocery store or the stranger who held the door open for me.
Giving thanks—as opposed to merely being thankful within oneself—is inherently relational: you can only give thanks to or for someone or something else. As soon as we offer thanks for anything or anyone, we reach outside ourselves. We connect ourselves to the blessings God has surrounded us with. In doing so, we lay hold of a new, transfigured way of being-in-the-world (Nicole Roccas , Time and Despondency: Regaining the Present in Faith and Life, Kindle Location 1743-1751)
The point is that you can be full of thanks for what you have or for what is going on, but do you ever actually give thanks? Thankfulness can be a feeling within, but thanksgiving is activity directed towards those who made us feel gratitude. There is a great difference between being internally joyful and pleased, and actually giving thanks to others, or to God. Thanksgiving both the Feast and the activity is actually offering thanks to the Creator or to someone. It is turning our thankfulness into action and into our relationship with God and others. It is getting out of the self and moving toward the other. It is the difference between self-love and true love which is always directed toward another. Thanksgiving isn’t supposed to be the feast of satiation or self-satisfaction, but rather of giving credit and thanks to all of those responsible for everything we enjoy.