I used to joke that Thanksgiving was about the three Fs: Family, Food & Football.
But even then I knew it was more than that.
Thanksgiving is easy. It’s the smack in the face every year that says hey you! You’ve got it pretty good and it’s time you acknowledged that. It’s a blatant reminder, an EXCUSE, even, to take a minute to reflect on our lives and get a little perspective. Thanksgiving is a get out of jail free card for neglecting all of the thank yous you should have been saying all year.
Your life isn’t perfect, you say? You don’t have everything you want? Well whoever promised you that you would? You’re not supposed to get everything you want. You should always want more and you should acknowledge that wanting doesn’t mean you’re unfortunate, it means you’re alive. Only fools are satisfied.
Things are going rough, you say? My grandmother just died. My neighbors’ homes are destroyed from the hurricane and they have nowhere to live; they’d have no food to eat if it weren’t for the Red Cross and good-hearted individuals. Last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas I had to put my dog to sleep. There are people all around the world with nothing, children in orphanages, folks battling diseases, adults dealt a bad hand forced to live on city streets as the winter rolls in.
How are we living in this world and only seeing our selves, our wants, our unfulfilled desires? Is Thanksgiving a time to throw fits? Is it a time to get frustrated with planning and just ignore your family? This is the time to be grateful you have a family and a great, easy excuse to embrace them.
Perspective is so easy to get; as easy as Thanksgiving. We have to relinquish our pride for a bit but that’s okay, it’ll still be there when we get back. Stop complaining, take a step back, realize what you have instead of lamenting about what you don’t have.
That said, here are 10 simple things I’m showing gratitude for this Thanksgiving. It’s worth noting that I write or speak a similar (and longer) list at least once a month and I urge you to try the same. There’s nothing easier than itemizing what you’re grateful for to give you some perspective and start living your life the way your creator (God, Universe, monkey) wants you to.
1. My family. Especially given our recent loss. I flew back home from California with the news that my grandmother passed away, and I don’t say that for credit, I say it because family means that much to me that I needed to be here making the puzzle as whole as possible as we mourned our loss. Now, more than ever, this is what counts. Though it always counts. Not just because someone died or because it’s Thanksgiving, those things just make it easy to see what we should always be seeing.
2. The 10 years I got to spend with my dog before she passed away. I’ve written Thanksgiving posts about Lacey before because she was a great example of perspective. She was sick for a while but stuck around even longer and I was grateful for every minute. She may have had cancer destroying her physically but mentally? She was the happiest thing you could find. There’s no doubt in my mind that her positivity and lack of feeling sorry for herself was what helped her to live a longer and happier life. Humans, we can learn a thing or two from the canines around us. I’m also grateful that I was able to have the choice to put her our of her misery. As much as no human should ever have to make a life or death decision about another living being, if it could save her from suffering, I’m thankful I could do it.
3. My home(s). Hurricane Sandy hit hard and my neighborhood is living proof. But through all of that and our close proximity to the ocean, we had no damage. Everyone was okay. Thankful even prior to have a roof over our heads, I am now eternally grateful that my family was able to escape and hopeful that we can put that to good use and help others less fortunate. I’m also grateful that on the opposite coast, I have a wonderful apartment in California that keeps me comfy, warm and safe and seems to have pretty good resistance to earthquakes (knock wood).
4. Work. I’m forever grateful that I am employed, regardless of the situation. We all know how fragile this is given the recent barrage of political nonsense we’ve endured as a nation and my job gives me the means to provide for myself and live comfortably, something I do not take lightly.
5. My car. Without it, I wouldn’t get very far. I wouldn’t have the adventures I so enjoy, the very adventures that get my heart racing with anticipation or appreciation for the little things in life. You may think adventures are useless or at the very least unimportant but why are we here on this beautiful Earth if not to enjoy it? Without my car I wouldn’t be able to go grocery shopping or visit friends and family. Having transportation is amazing and whenever I feel like I’m getting too used to it, I remember the days without it, riding the bus or walking in the rain (both of which I’d be thankful for, too, honestly) and give my steering wheel a big hug.
6. Nature. Earth is a giant painting all around us. The clouds, the stars, the moon, the sunsets and sunrises, the thunderstorms, the mountains, the beaches, the forests – it’s art. And we get to stare at it whenever we want with no admissions fee. It gives us life; air to breathe, light to see, water to drink, food to nourish us and it’s all right there for us to touch and live in and show us how small we really are in the grand scheme. How big can our problems be if we ourselves are only tiny specks in this grand world? Universe? This is not man made, this is bigger than we are and we need to respect it.
7. The mess in my room. The mess indicates that I have the means to buy stuff. And while the stuff isn’t what matters, the fact that I can get it at all proves to me that I’m doing something right and that I’ll be okay if things ever got worse.
8. My friends. Family aside, I’ve got great people in my life. They may not always be easy to talk to or on the same page but there are people that I care about that care about me back and we can share ideas and adventures and be there for each other when necessary. This is incredibly priceless.
9. New York. I may have run away to sunnier skies on the west, but now more than ever I appreciate New York for raising me right (also, my parents) and making me proud of the place I spent 26 years growing up in. I’m also grateful for California for being the next great place I’ll get to grow up in. I’m grateful for all of the states I got to experience along the way and all of the places I’ve been in between. I’m grateful for the diversity of this country, that we can get on a plane and within just a few hours be somewhere completely different. We can make different places our homes or always come back to where it began and shout out to modern technology for allowing it to be so simple.
10. The internet. I could live without it, something I hope we all learned in the aftermath of the storm. Our cell phones and TVs and wireless internet is unimportant in the grand scheme but when it’s available to us and we use it correctly, it can provide us a world of opportunity. And I say that now only because it’s giving me the opportunity to write this and share it with you, hopefully helping you gain some positive perspective this Thanksgiving (or all year long) and enjoy everything you have before it’s too late.
We take things for granted, all of us. It’s human to do so. It’s normal to get wrapped up in what we have and never see that it might not always be there. Thanksgiving is easy, it’s built right there in the name that we should be taking a step back to see how much opportunity we have to be happy. If you can’t do it every other day of the year, at least try it now. Consider Thanksgiving cheat day and give your best shot. Be grateful. Show it. Say it out loud and you’ll get even more opportunity to be happy. Start with your own list, dig deep. Godspeed.
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