With Christmas carols already blaring at the malls, Santa popping up all around and television commercials hawking perfect presents for everyone for that big day in December, it’s easy for Thanksgiving to get lost amid the holiday hustle and bustle.
And that’s a shame.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American experience, one that harkens to our nation’s origins. While the story of Pilgrims and Indians to which we were all exposed at a tender age may have suffered from some sketchy historical revisions, the ideals represented by what the holiday has become are certainly worthwhile.
At its core, Thanksgiving is about slowing down long enough to appreciate what we have, something most of us don’t do often enough.
Given the state of world affairs — a stagnant economy that refuses to rebound, governmental scandals, wars that never seem to end, international unrest, man’s inhumanity to fellow man – it’s easy to think there’s nothing for which we should be thankful. Easy, and wrong.
We can be thankful that even though we may not agree politically, our political process is such that we can elect a president without violence in the streets, without military coups, without fear of despots and dictatorships. Our system may not be pretty or efficient or perfect, but it works.
We can be thankful for an American military willing to wage war on foreign soil to provide security here at home.
We can be thankful that despite a lingering economic decline that has included high unemployment, we still have a standard of living that is the envy of most of the world.
We can be thankful that we can gather to worship and pray on Thanksgiving Day if we choose to do so without fear of retribution – and that we can choose not to do so as well.
We can be thankful that there are so many who are willing to volunteer their time and money to help those among us who suffer from any number of misfortunes.
We can be thankful that despite all the evil in the world, there is still good to be found in our fellow man, and that the good is by far the more common trait.
We can be thankful that as people living in a nation where freedom is still the rule rather than the exception we can dream of those things we want from life, and make our dreams reality.
As a nation, there is so much for which we all should be thankful not just on this special holiday, but every day.
Try to slow down a little this week and feel the spirit of appreciation and gratitude exemplified by Thursday’s special day. Take time to appreciate what you have rather than obsessing on what you may not have. Wrap yourself in friends and family, or just the comforting blanket of quiet solitude, and let your heart be thankful.
Enjoy the holiday.