Once a year, collectively as a nation, we designate a day to give thanks. Regardless of the history behind the holiday’s formation, whether it was Pilgrims giving thanks for their first harvest or George Washington and the nation’s new Congress proclaiming often 3 or 4 days of thanks in celebration of military or other victories. Today many of us can agree that Thanksgiving is a celebration that should transcend all history, religious, racial and ethnic demographics.

These are unsettling times in America. Unsettling times may in fact be our norm rather than any historical exception. It is sometimes difficult to separate the present turmoil and divisiveness to maintain perspective regarding the privileges and blessings that come from being born or residing in the United States. The country is FAR from perfect, but we have so many opportunities, luxuries and freedoms compared to so many other places in the world, it is easy to take them for granted.

Perspective is an important part of appreciating all of the blessings that you have (even when it is not always obvious.) Life may be difficult. Life may have challenges. There are a small percentage of us in America that live in true despair. Lives in which homelessness, no food, no income no hope are our daily reality. That may be the worst, and the next level is also disconcerting. There are far too many people in this country who are food and income sensitive…people who do not know with any certainty where their next meal may come from or have any security beyond possibly day to day living.

If you do not fall within one of those categories or are not suffering from a debilitating or life threatening health crisis, you need to put it into perspective how blessed you really are.

It should not take one day a year, governed by a federal holiday, to take stock in our lives and give thanks. Thanksgiving is becoming increasingly commercialized. What was once purely a four day holiday that promoted families coming together, is now more the precursor to Black Friday. In fact Thanksgiving itself is now officially commercialized with malls and stores now opening in the evening, forcing millions to work on a family holiday to try and bolster retails sales.

So on this Thanksgiving…let’s take a step back…take a deep breath and whether you are able to be with all of your loved ones or not, take stock of how truly blessed you are. Also take the holiday as a reminder that giving thanks does not need to be restricted to the fourth Thursday every November.

I had an awakening many years ago. I do not know if it was spiritual, but it was definitely an epiphany. No matter how it may appear on the surface to others, my life is not always easy. However, at the beginning and end of each day, I always reflect on how blessed I am, regardless of the day’s events and circumstances. As long as you have your health… As long as you have hope…there is so much to be thankful for. I do not know s*** about being too blessed to be stressed… but I do live with enough perspective to have an appreciation to understand that not only do so many others have so much less than I do, I still have opportunity to improve and make things better and that in of itself is enough to be grateful for.

Hope and optimism are not reserved for Internet memes. It is a state of mind and being that can carry us forward. If times and circumstances have gotten you down, let this holiday serve as a springboard of remembrance for all that we have to give thanks. For most of us it is truly a lot.




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