Thanksgiving DayS

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?

5 thoughts on “Thanksgiving DayS

  1. Right on Ron! Thanksgiving rocks. It is the only day in America where it seems like every Sunday in Germany– stores closed, people need to relate to each other… Sundays aren’t what they used to/should be. Have a great Thanksgiving. Dean

  2. Yeah, there’s no commercialism at the Seattle 1/2 marathon. If you really want to slow down, tune out, and get in touch with your thankfulness then maybe you should give up your comped entry to a homeless person (they can have a nice post-turkey day feast at the post-race banquet) and go for a bare-footed run up in the mountains.

  3. Jeez, the Obama administration and Washington football is getting to someone. Come on, you’re a 9.5 point favorite in the big rivalry game, lighten up. I didn’t know the homeless were feeling shut out of the half marathon, now I feel bad. Maybe I’ll just run it barefoot and give the shirt to my wife again.

  4. I think engaging in strenous physical activity after a blarg like Thanksgiving is a great idea. We have a tradition of either hiking or xc skiing on the Friday after. Good luck with the 1/2 marathon!

  5. What are some things I might be grateful for, Ron? For starters that I have chosen to not be part of the rat race any longer, or the frenetic pace of modern life—and that at this point in my journey I can afford to do so? Definitely. I’m grateful too that I’m beginning to see the prof0und in the ordinary, the mundane, the hidden. I’m really grateful you know that I don’t have to live in my homeland of Nigeria, and this is important, because at this time last year I was in Lagos and I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed all over again by the flamboyant display of survival with nothing to cling onto all around me; the suffering, the immense deprivation, the poverty, the flagrant wealth of the lucky few; the ongoing corruption of a so-called democratically elected government, and I thought, and keep thinking, I come from this blind country but I get to escape it—and for me, being scandalously unpatriotic, that is something to be grateful for. Indeed the Nigerian side of my family were one of those lucky few able to live above the hoards, but nonetheless there were prisons of other kinds: cultural stagnation, conservatism, and I couldn’t be part of it. I get to live my life in a setting of my own choosing. There’s exaggeration I know in comparing myself to those who return from war, but I sometimes think I can see viscerally what they mean when they say they’re puzzled by the minor annoyances that drive people used to living the cozy middle class civilian existence to drivel after what they’ve been through on the front lines. So I guess I am grateful I live in Canada, grateful that I am actually aware of this and that I can run through its beautiful forests with my dogs ; for the perspective that comes from being multicultural; grateful for the impetus to slow down to myself you know, finally see, hear, feel other people, things, events; grateful for my health; and that I can finally let change stand for what it may.

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