In America, we have a holiday each November called Thanksgiving. It’s a time when we gather with family and friends, to share a meal, and express gratitude for what we have in our lives. Many customs have evolved around this day: the types of foods we eat, how men tend to watch football games together while women plan their holiday shopping and bustle in the kitchen,the types of table decorations and flower centerpieces we have–all sorts of things that are distinctly American.
These are some of the rituals that are well-known. There are other, quieter things that are as important too , but much more subtle. Things like who carves the turkey each year, or says the blessing over the meal. Or how guests offer to bring a side dish, if they are sharing their meal in another’s home. Or whether the children join the adults at the primary table, or sit with cousins at a special table of their own. These are things that differ from home to home, but are part of our common experience we expect whenever people get together for this holiday.
These rituals, both big and small, give us a sense of continuity, and are firmly, but gently, entrenched into our behavioral patterns as a nation. They connect us not only as families, but as a country.
Our world right now is in chaos.
People are killing themselves, and others, with randomized intention.
Politicians are trying to be elected, without being held accountable for anything whatsoever, past, present or future. They are all bullying one other, trying to seem the strongest, but sadly–none of them really have the answers for any of our problems. They’re just trying to grab power from one another.
Childhoods are being shortened as our youngest become sexualized sooner than ever, older workers are being displaced to make room for younger ones willing to be paid less, and social media makes anonymous hatred and disrespect the norm.
People are working more hours and making less money. They admire reality TV stars, who manipulate viewers into falsely believing hidden scripts, and agendas masked by financial deals. Patriotism is now seen as quaint and even suspect, while belligerence and conflict are the new expectations, promoted and highlighted by the media.
We, as a nation, are blessed beyond reason. We have resources that others in the world covet. Although we are a younger nation than many, we have a history that includes gratitude, generosity, hard work and pride.
We are better than we have been behaving.
We can do better than we have been.
And we must.
Stop with the bitching.
Stop with the whining.
Stop with the attitude.
We are still great. We are still beautiful. We are still the United States of America, by God–and may He continue to bless us.
This year, no matter what your Thanksgiving table looks like, and no matter who sits around it with you, I urge you to pause for that extra moment, and be grateful. Thank whomever or whatever you choose, but be thankful. As our world faces continuing conflict, as our families continue to face uncertainty, fear and need–we must still pause, as a united country, and say ‘thank you’.
Because we still have so very much to appreciate.
Don’t you see? We have resources, and people and customs that define us. We have friends, family and a nation that, while battered, is still ours. We have people in our lives that matter to us, and homes that are secure and safe, when compared to many other places in the world.
Yes. The world is crazy.
Yes. Many of us are struggling–financially, personally, emotionally–in every way you imagine.
None of that matters, when compared to the gift of life you have been given, the skills and talents you bring to the world, and the love that those people around you offer.
Friend, I challenge you to externalize this outlook.
I challenge you to stop whining and start doing.
I challenge you to be grateful, and to recognize what a beautiful life you have been given, no matter what your current circumstances look like.
Wherever you are my Friend, even if you’re not in America, (but especially if you are)–whisper ‘thank you’ before you try to carry on with your private battles. Pause and share a sense of thanksgiving, knowing that you are not alone, and you are not an accident.
Each of you reading this, no matter how frightened you are by what is happening in the world, can still be grateful that you are here.
Each of you, no matter what you are grieving, can be grateful that you are still part of the fight to make this broken world better.
Each of you, no matter how weak you may feel in the face or our country’s struggles, can still make a difference.
And you must.
In the face of our crazy, broken and grieving planet–Thanksgiving together as a nation still matters, more than ever. We must put aside our differences–political, religious–whatever it is that divides us, and focus instead on our collective sense of thanks for what we DO have. Let today be a day that starts us on a path of unity, cohesiveness and appreciation.
Reader, may your day be filled with peace, love and gentleness. I hope that no matter where you are, or how you end up spending your day–you will choose to acknowledge the many wonderful things in your life, and be thankful.
Please tell me–what are you grateful for, my Friend?….
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