Thanksgiving, long time visitors to this blog will know, is my favorite holiday. It’s not about venerating one ideal (inevitably over others) or celebrating a victory (at which some must have suffered defeat) or a particular personage (who may be disliked or worse by some segment of the populace) . . . rather, Thanksgiving is just about being reflecting on the good things in your life, the things for which you are thankful.
Certainly, in some years the thanks is more bountiful than in others. Indeed, in some years the things worthy of regret may seem, feel, or actually be more plentiful than those for which we give thanks. But when all the marks are tallied, there invariably ARE things worth venerating . . . and that in itself is worth being thankful for.
On the whole, most people I know are pretty underwhelmed with how 2016 has progressed thus far. The grim reaper has claimed a larger than usual number of influential musicians, actors, and pop cultural icons. Within my personal sphere of connectivity there have been several deaths, a handful of completely unexpected endings to long term relationships, major surgeries, chronic illnesses, and the usual collection of smaller “slings and arrows” that pepper our lives with regret and dissatisfaction. And don’t even get me started about the only recently concluded election season.
And yet, I am fully prepared to raise a glass (or a turkey leg) at today’s gathering and celebrate all that I DO have to be thankful for—friends and family, health, success in a career I love. But perhaps the thing I overlook most often, and one that I am keenly aware of this year, is that I am thankful to be living in a time and a place where I’m afforded the opportunity to try again. If life pulls the rug out from under my feet, or I make a critical error, or bad luck just settles on my shoulders for an inexplicably long period of time . . . I can roll my sleeves up and try again.
With all the problems the world is facing right now . . . with all the errors we seem to have made . . . with all the bad news we see crawling across our computer screens . . . despite all of that, we have the chance to get up tomorrow and try again. Try to fix the things that are broken. Try to steer the course of our lives (personal, public, political, cultural) into calmer, saner waters. Try to spend more time doing the things that really matter to us. Try to help those around us. Try to leave a positive mark on the world, so that when we’ve gone those who remain will be able to raise their glasses and give thanks for the legacy we’ve bequeathed them.
So whether you celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday or not, I hope you’ll join me in this little ritual.
Stop whatever it is you’re doing. Raise the glass, cup, can, bottle, or canteen of whatever it is your drinking (or simply take a moment of silence if you’re not drinking anything), and think or speak a few quick, personally meaningful words of thanks for the truly important things in your life. Appreciate what you’ve got. Because in this life fortunes can change in an instant . . . and we should try our best never to take the good things for granted.
Happy Thanksgiving, all!