Consider this column a holiday public service. Consider it an aide memoire of what really matters. Consider it anything you wish. However, I wanted to take these moments, particularly at this time of year, to remind us – me – of some reasons to offer up thanks. After all, despite what sometimes passes as common belief, Thanksgiving is not a caloric competition.
With two unfinished wars, a frightening escalation of global warming, the shortage of affordable healthcare, a faltering standard of living, lower mortgage values, exploding unemployment, and – oh yeah – a financial meltdown the likes of which have not been seen in a century; it is the ultimate understatement to put forth that 2008 has been a particularly thorny year.
In times such as we find ourselves, it is vital to recall the words of Francois de La Rochefoucauld, “Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors.” The future will be better; be assured. Yet, while we are still chopping though the rough seas of today, some reminders might be in order.
Despite the rancor and rhetoric of the longest political campaign in history, our country will once again cede power from one party to the opposition, and do so without violence. A seismic change in the course of our nation is occurring; and it is happening without troops in the street and bloodshed between neighbors. Love or loathe the direction, it is a testament to mankind’s highest ideals that we can – and do – give witness to such an historic event.
May of us will be surrounded by family and friends, people who support and guide us. When we are off course, they redirect us. When we are on track, they congratulate us. When illness ravages our body and beats our spirit, they, like angels, sit by our side and heal us. When we are overwhelmed, they hold us near. When infused with joy, they join us in song. What a blessing, in the midst of seas of swirling, chaotic, pandemonium, to find islands of protection where we can have a rest and reclaim our souls. To say to them, “Thank you,” is woefully, pitifully, inadequate. Yet, it can do no harm.
As we pull up to a table overstuffed with breads, pastries, pies, stuffing, potatoes, turkey, and wine; we might be inclined to complain about the willpower necessary to watch how much we consume. Should that thought cross your mind, remember that nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.
Finally, possibly of most import, be reminded that while we might find it difficult to resist second helpings and the abundant excesses of Thanksgiving, the majority of people who share our planet would drop to their knees, take your hand in theirs, and say “thank you” countless times for the scraps that we, without thought, throw into the garbage. The world is unbalanced. Even when our lifestyles feel under siege, we still have far more than most. Be grateful; stay in perspective.
To truly appreciate that which abundantly surrounds us, it is essential to give thanks for how fortunate we are – especially when it might appear that we are not. Should you wish to indulge in excesses this Thanksgiving, do so in your show of gratitude.