Monday, December 12, 2016

10 Things to Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.

It is the last Holiday not corrupted beyond recognition, by greed and rampant consumerism. Everyone in America knows the story of the first Thanksgiving and at every dinner table in the country we give thanks for the blessings of the preceding year. We can all find meaning in this holiday and come together in friendship.


This past year has been rough on a lot of families. Jobs have been lost, hours have been cut, and homes have been taken by banks. All of us have faced some struggle as this recession has raged throughout the nation. I know. I have lost a job and a home this year. I’m not earning near as much as I had been just last year, and yet…


I still have many reasons to be thankful. For everything that I have lost I have at least one blessing in my life.


Here are 10 things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.


Friends


My friends have become such an important part of my life that I simply can’t imagine not being able to talk with them. I cherish nothing more than being able to share the evening hours with them over a glass of wine and a game.


In the years since my divorce each of them has stood by me and supported me at every turn. Without them my life would have become a hollow empty husk. They are my strength when I am weak, they make me laugh when all I want to do is cry, they offer a hand before I’ve even asked, and they encourage me in whatever I choose to do.


I am thankful that I have such wonderful friends in my life and I hope that I am half the friend to them as they are to me.


Family


My brother and his wife recently welcomed a new daughter into the family. Like her older sister she is beautiful and makes her uncle proud. She was the belle of the ball at our family reunion this year.


Spending time with my new niece and our extended family was wonderful. I hadn’t seen my cousins in several years and we had lost touch as we spread across the country. It has been many years since so many of the Purdy clan had been in one place and I am glad that we had the time to sit and visit with each other. I am amazed at where we have all ended up and the various things that we have done since the last time we had seen each other.


I am thankful that my extended family is always there to welcome me with open arms and hearts when I finally come back home. I hope they know how much I love them.


Work


I may have lost a job this year and taken a steep pay cut but, a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn has enabled me keep working even while so many others search in vain. Never would I have imagined that I would become a full time daycare provider. It is, however, something that I enjoy doing. I am happier now than I have been in years. It also allows me time to pursue other interests such as writing and learning new job skills.


To all who are still searching, try to remain positive and do not be afraid to try something new. Like me, you may find a new career that brings you more happiness than you ever imagined.


I am thankful that I have work to do and for the money it provides.


An Education


Anyone who knew me while I was in school will laugh in disbelief when I say that my education is something that I am thankful for. I hated school.


Learning however, was a different matter. My education gave me a foundation on which to build and my desire to learn has helped me take several very interesting jobs. Having learned how to learn, I can honestly say that there is nothing that I can’t learn how to do.


Recently I have been helping one of the children that I provide daycare for with his homework. Unfortunately, he is a lot like I was when I was in school and homework is torture. A lot of the techniques that I use to help him focus on and complete his homework were learned from my mother, who spent many long frustrating hours helping me with mine. And while many of our homework sessions devolved into anger and tantrums my mom stuck it out. I am fortunate that through her trial and error I have an arsenal already at my disposal. I’m sure that there were many times that she wished someone could have shared these tools with her.


I am thankful that my mother pushed me so hard and worked closely with me to ensure that I got the most out of my education.


A Home


Many of us take our homes for granted, assuming that we will always have them. If this recession has taught us anything, it is this. Our homes, be they apartments, houses, or condos, are only as safe as our jobs. I have been fortunate that I have been able to keep a roof over my head through several rounds of layoffs. Many others have not.


I am thankful that I have someplace warm and safe to sleep at night; someplace where I am welcomed with open and loving arms.


Laughter


During the most troubling and difficult times laughter becomes essential. Without laughter our lives become just a little more empty. Being able to laugh, even at something as stupid as a misspelled classified ad, moves the heart and soul from sadness to joy. A joy that can last beyond the brief moment that caused the laughter in the first place. It has been said that laughter is the best medicine. Can you deny the truth of that?


I laugh everyday. More so now that I am watching the children full time. Sometimes I laugh at some silliness that one of the children has let slip from their mouth and sometimes I laugh because I chose to sit and watch a sitcom. I don’t care how bad your day, week, month, or year is, if you can find laughter you will be happy.


I am thankful that I have so many reasons to laugh and that through laughter I can release the tension and worry that builds up in these difficult times.


Health


Our health is something that we should all be thankful for. I have gone without health insurance for at least five years of my adult life. This could have been problematic if I had been in poor health. There are millions of Americans without health insurance, who when faced with an illness must choose between paying for health care and paying the electric bill.


I am thankful that I am healthy enough not to have found myself faced with this choice. I am also thankful that we have a President who feels so strongly about making sure everyone has access to affordable health care.


The Kindness Of Strangers


At some point in our lives we will benefit from the kindness of a stranger. Perhaps it will be someone who let’s you merge into heavy traffic when everyone else has pulled all the way forward and blocked the driveway. Maybe it will be someone who gives you a nickel at the 7 – eleven because you’re just a little short. Whatever kindness that a stranger may share be thankful and remember to pass that favor on as a random act of kindness.


I am thankful for the kindness a stranger showed me when she allowed me to move ahead of her in the checkout line because she could see that with the baby in one hand, milk in the other, and the three year old trying his best to pick up every piece of candy on the shelf that allowing me to go ahead would help me out. I want to thank everyone who has ever shown me a small kindness like this.


Our Abundant Wealth


How often do we wish that we could afford a better car, a new TV, or that new game console? How often do we complain that we just don’t make enough?


A lot.


I have seen true poverty and know that I live the life of a very wealthy man. The truth is that even when we are flat broke, living paycheck to paycheck, and trying to win the lottery, we are still rich in comparison to millions of people throughout the world.


I am thankful for every dollar that I earn and the luxuries that money provides. I am also thankful for the organizations that are trying to make a difference in the lives of people and communities who are living in poverty.


Natural Resources


Like many people, I worry about the negative impact our society is having throughout the world. The polluting of our lakes and streams, the clearing of our forests, and the loss of farmland to urban sprawl. Global warming, melting ice caps, and rising sea levels all loom in the near future; specters of an armageddon of our own making. But for as much damage as we have done there are those who fight to protect our resources and our wildlife.


There are over 50 national parks in the US. These are places where we can go and enjoy the natural wonders that our modern society has made so rare. I enjoy spending time outdoors in the sun or in the snow. Walking in the woods is a special joy that makes a walk through the neighborhood seem like a chore.


I encourage everyone to find time to get away from the cities and spend time in nature.


I am thankful to live in a place with so many nature parks filled with hiking paths and not with swing-sets and tennis courts. I am also thankful for those parks with the playgrounds. So are the children!


The Thankfulness Challenge


We should all be thankful for the things on this list and yet there are so many other blessings, large and small, to be thankful for. I challenge you to write your own list of things to be thankful for. Take a few from this list and add a few of your own, create an entirely new list, or take this list and use your own life and experiences to make it a personal list.


You Don’t have To Wait


I am thankful for the opportunity to share my list with you and to leave you with this one final thought. You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to be thankful. Be thankful everyday and see what new wonders your attitude of gratitude will open up for you.


Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Holiday Season filled with love and laughter.


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