Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, hands down. Especially when I can avoid congested freeways and flying.
In part because it’s among the least commercial.
We don’t have any elaborate traditions really, we tend to slow down, kick on the gas fireplace, catch up with one another, eat too much, and reflect on how much we have to be thankful for. On the weekend we’ll cap it off with 24 hours in Seattle where I’ll burn off some of the extra calories in the Seattle Half Marathon.
Interesting context for Thanksgiving this year. People are losing their jobs while their homes and retirement accounts rapidly decline in value. And despite the excitement generated by profound political change, there’s deep-seated foreboding about our economy and the world’s economy. Recently, my international stock index fund crossed the “minus 50% year to date” threshold.
On a personal level, this academic year is shaping up to be considerably more stressful than normal. And yet, I have so much to be thankful for. . . a secure job, inspiring students, wonderful friends, a healthy and loving family, a warm home, ample food, a beautiful place to live, a peaceful political transition, and I could go on and on.
What I wonder though is how can we infuse a Thanksgiving-like appreciation for all we have to be thankful for throughout the year?
At the beginning of this year, I wrote about our impending trip to Norway in this way, “My hope is we’ll be changed as a result of our Northern retreat, both individually and collectively. When school and full-time work begins again in September, and we return to our regular routines, I hope there’s a legacy of intimacy that helps us better manage the pace of modern life and relate to one another and others with even more patience, kindness, and love.”
I don’t feel as if I’ve succeeded in managing the pace of modern life, therefore, I doubt that I’m relating to my family and others with increased patience, kindness, and love.
Managing the pace of modern life and incorporating a Thanksgiving-like appreciation throughout the year are closely related. Slowing down is a prerequisite for taking stock of one’s personal “for this I give thanks” list.
More specifically, a commitment to daily meditation or prayer helps, as well as, associating with people who have a year-round thanksgiving-orientation.
How do you combat cynicism and negativity? What suggestions do you have for me as I try to be even more thankful throughout the year?