Thanksgiving is the time of year when we are reminded to give thanks for the wonderful things in our lives and for all of our blessings. With so many varying cultures, at every age and stage in life, what we value to give thanks for will naturally differ from person to person. Turning 70 this year has given me a new perspective on thankfulness: it’s one thing to be thankful for something or for someone, but I would have not the chance if I were not here to be thankful in the first place!
One gift of living longer is appreciating the ability to be alive in new ways. With age comes the loss of so many near and dear. Thus, it’s only in recent years that I understand and appreciate what I heard from elders when I was young, “As long as you have your health…” Therefore, I’m most thankful to be thankful to still be alive and healthy.
As a child, I was thankful for other happenings and things: parents who tried their best to give me opportunities. In my twenties and thirties, I was thankful for education, marriage, and ultimately freedom to adventure beyond my wildest dreams and to travel the world; trains, planes and automobiles, and yes, boats too were all fabulous experiences. So was the opportunity to meet with spiritual leaders, seek my own way, and become a licensed pilot. Bumps, bruises, excitement, challenges—I was thankful to be alive to experience it and thankful to have survived the adventure!
After many losses and some challenging times, ultimately I was thankful to have a family of my own and to succeed at a profession that I loved. The next decades brought new creativity as I began to write, speak and appear on national media programs. I learned that I was an educator at heart and that in between would be illnesses and losses that would knock me down time and time again. Through it all, I was thankful to have just gotten through, to have laughed, loved and lived.
Now, at 70, I’ve decided I’m just thankful to be thankful. I’m not dead, I’m not sick, I’m not bound to a wheelchair and I still have my wits. Just to be alive, to live another day of opportunity, to share more hours with my daughters and grandsons…I’m thankful to be thankful. Oh! And to have the energy to continue learning and adventuring—if it’s true that comfort and stagnation tends to kill, I’m bound to be around for another hundred years!
In “these tough economic times” it can be hard to find things to be thankful for. Millions of Americans are suffering with bank accounts that cannot support the weight of the upcoming holiday season. Many Americans cannot support the weight of tomorrow. These are the times to be most generous and grateful.
If we have enough to eat and are still in our homes and can manage a wry attitude change, some may even manage to ultimately be thankful for the recession because it has taught us what not to take for granted and allowed us the ability to appreciate what we have when we have it.
Whether you are a Republican or Democrat or Tea Party or Muslim or black or white or African or Chinese, atheist or Roman Catholic, be thankful for the opportunity to interact, to share, to grow together, to learn from one another and to affect positive change in our world. And be thankful for the challenges we endure that educate us about ourselves and the world we live in, because these are our lessons to learn in order to teach those who follow us.