The chaotic holiday season is officially upon us once again. We will eat way too much food on Thanksgiving, Amazon will ship way too many packages, and people around the world will share gifts and spend time with their loved ones on Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or whatever other year-end religious holiday they celebrate. It’s the time of year when people feel a little more humble, a little more charitable, a little more human. So let me start by wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. Leave all the stress and disgust and general unpleasantness at the front door, at least for one day, and just be with the people you love.
Now that the intro is out of the way, I offer you a challenge.
Every November, we here in America make a big show of gathering with our families and counting all the blessings, big and small, for which we are thankful. Those usually include our children, our friends, our parents and siblings, etc. And those are certainly things to be very thankful for. Your challenge, should you choose to accept, is to make a list of all the things you’re thankful for and celebrate it every day, not just once a year. It doesn’t have to be a physical list, but just consider all the positives in your life every morning when you wake up rather than focusing on the negatives 360 days a year. It’s a challenge I’ve set for myself in recent months, and it has really helped me gain some perspective on life.
I’m not a huge fan of holidays. Not that I don’t enjoy the time away from work and the gatherings with the family. In fact, I’ve grown a lot more fond of Thanksgiving and Christmas since having children. The problem I have with these special days of the year is simple: why just once a year? Why does there have to be a special day every February for me to tell my wife I love her? Why should we honor our military veterans only once a year? Why do we buy gifts for the most important people in our lives only on December 25? And why do we have to wait until the fourth Thursday in November to celebrate all the things we’re thankful for? Valentine’s Day should be every day. Veterans’ Day should be every day. Christmas and Thanksgiving should be every day.
If you’re reading this, chances are you have a whole lot of things in your life to cherish. You have the means to own the computer or smartphone you’re staring at. Some people don’t. You’ve had the educational opportunities to learn that the letters I’m stringing together spell words. Some people haven’t. You woke up this morning, safe in your home, and put both feet on the ground. Some people didn’t. I’m certainly not trying to make anyone feel guilty for the material possessions they own. You’ve earned them, and if they make you happy, then you do you. Lord knows I have my fair share of things I don’t need. What I’m trying to convey is just a little perspective. There are millions of people in the world who would give nearly anything to be able to spend five days a week at that job you can’t stand or driving that car you don’t want or living in that house that’s not big enough for you.
So let’s start with Thanksgiving. Sit down at dinner with your loved ones and be thankful you can all be together. Even if your Uncle Bob is a Trump supporter or your Grandma Sandy voted for Hillary or your nephew threw his vote away on a third-party candidate. Be thankful you can afford to put that twenty-pound bird in the center of the table and not eat it all. Be thankful you have that 52” flat-screen TV so you can watch the Cowboys and the Lions play. Then wake up Friday morning and be thankful all over again. And again on Saturday, and the next Saturday, and all the Saturdays after that. It might just help you realize things aren’t really so bad. And it might just help you realize there’s something you can do to make someone else’s life just a little better. Something you can do to put the “giving” into “Thanksgiving.”