Like millions of Americans, some of my family members and I, plus neighbors, sat down to a feast together on Thanksgiving Day. Before one bite of food touched our lips, one attending prayed over the feast. We then spoke in turn around the table, stating what we each had to be thankful for. Many shared only a few top items on their lists. I sensed the struggle to keep their words short for the sake of the growling stomachs of their nearby comrades. When it came to my turn, I felt that if I gave even those that immediately came to mind, the food would have grown cold long before I could finish. Those of you who know me personally understand that I can give a two-hour lecture on how to wear a cap.
Thanksgiving is celebrated once per year, but that’s no reason to reserve it as the only day when we reflect on the countless items we’re grateful for. We certainly don’t seem to take a day off from considering the many problems facing us, our community, the world, or our country. We are constantly bombarded with dissension, controversy, disasters, crises, and impending false or real dooms promulgated by the news, talk shows, and social media. With what we hear and see from those outlets, one might think we’d have nothing to be thankful for, and our future is bleak. In some places in the world, that may be more true than not. However, in our country and many others, it simply isn’t true.
For every person in dire circumstances at any given time, millions are more fortunate and thriving. The countries where the majority are suffering due to famine, war, or other disasters are very few if taken in the context of our entire world. I’m not attempting to minimize the suffering of others, nor our responsibility to help our fellow man. I am pointing out how grateful we should be that we are in a better place from which we can help those less fortunate than ourselves.
By devoting more time to considering the bounty we enjoy, we more readily keep a necessary balance in our lives. That balanced view aids us in effectively facing our daily challenges and keeps us from being overwhelmed by the weight of our problems, real or imagined. Balance gives us space to reason and to create solutions to existing problems. It allows us to find peace concerning those things we cannot control.
So place a reminder in your calendar if need be, but take time to pause now and then to look at all the positive aspects of your life and the world around you. Don’t ever get caught in that downward spiral of “everything’s gone to poop, and the future is hopeless”. It’s a bald-faced lie. Hope and good are all around you, just waiting to be noticed. We have much to be thankful for.