Happy Thanksgiving

Yes, today is Thanksgiving for readers in the USA, and just as good a time as any for the rest of us to focus on giving thanks.

In fact, while Thanksgiving will be overshadowed for many Americans by tomorrow’s “Black Friday” shopping crush, the rest of us will be free to retain some of the peace and calm that Thanksgiving should bestow.

You can thank God if you believe or your lucky stars if you don’t. The important thing today is to thank.

If you spend as much time on the Internet as I do, you could be forgiven for thinking that we should be most grateful for iPhones and bacon.  Feel free to be thankful for these.  But surely there are more important things, better things, to be grateful for.

After some reflection, these boil down to three for me.  You will probably have a similar list, although not necessarily identical.

HEALTH: My eyesight is not what it used to be and my knees do hurt at times, but all in all I am quite healthy.  Since we come in this package called a body, there is little we do that is not greatly impacted by our health and fitness.  Some of that is within your control, some is not.  Give thanks for that part that you have been given, and do what you can to enhance it with sleep, exercise and proper food.

FAMILY: I know how lucky I am to have a loving family.  I know not everybody is so blessed.  Again, my blessings are a result of the chances I have been given, but also the result of actions I am constantly taking to enhance these gifts.  You need to work at love. You have to put others first. You have to build trust. To hold onto love you have been given, you have to love others. Like health, family is a gift that can be lost if neglected.  Which brings me to the third item, which I have a hard time articulating…

STRENGTH: I chose “strength”, although it might not be the most accurate word.  What I mean is the good and giving in me – strength to do what is right, patience with people around me (which is not always easy in the high stress of an active family), strength to love even when frustrated and feeling more like saying “Oh, yeah?!?”  If there is one thing I pray for the most, by far, it is this strength, this focus.  I wish I could say I always have it, but I don’t.  But I know how many times I find that strength that could just as well be absent, and I am deeply grateful for that gift.

I could also have added “freedom” to this list, thinking of so many people who live in repressive regimes or under the control of a repressive person.  Or “peace”, thinking of people living with the daily threat of bombs in the Israeli region.  My prayers go out to all those people, too.

But today, I have chosen more personal traits that I enjoy and appreciate in peace, but would need so much more if I was in a place of conflict or repression.

There are millions of little things to be grateful for, of course, and we should never pass a moment without being grateful for something.  Never flush the toilet without feeling gratitude that you have a flush toilet.  Never drink water without feeling gratitude that you have fresh, disease-free water to drink.  Never staple papers together without feeling the gratitude that you have this little convenience.

And what I said earlier about bacon and iPhones…go ahead an be thankful every time you use them. Gratitude is a pillar of happiness.

But today is a great time to look at the big picture.  To give thanks for the gifts you have that make you the wonderful person you are.

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