Those of you who know me already know that Thanksgiving has always been a special day for me. You may find it surprising that its not really because of family traditions or specific memories, but simply because the purity of this holiday has been largely unsullied. It provides an opportunity to look back upon our lives, the people and events and experiences that have shaped us and, if we take the time to do so, to pause in quiet reflection and offer sincere thanks for everyone and everything that has blessed us during our journey thus far.
Its sad that Thanksgiving is now so largely overwhelmed by the retail glare of the December holiday - in the eyes of commerce at least, merely a placeholder between Halloween and Christmas - yet traditions do continue on a personal level for so many, and it is the hope those traditions bring that I pray resound within you and yours.
We are all so busy - and the nature of the day itself sometimes brings so much hustle and bustle to cook and prepare and travel and juggle priorities - that its easy to go through the motions, eat the turkey, watch the football games and then fall asleep on the couch or drag ourselves to the next 'obligation'.
But my wish for you on this day is that you take the time to find a place of quiet solitude and close your eyes. Let the events of your life - and especially the people - unfold before you in a diorama that is uniquely yours. Look inside the actual events tothose moments you shared with people who really influenced and changed your life. In many cases, you may find it was not a specific occurrence at all but a longtime association that built the memory. In others, it will be the pure flash of blue light that occurred when suddenly the scales fell from your eyes and you saw something clearly for the first time - and became a better person for it.
There will be moments of pain during this time of reflection, but I encourage you not to dwell on those feelings - for pain is a great teacher in and of itself and even those who hurt us can sometimes help us to learn and to grow even if that was never their intent. Pain from loss of those closest to us is also inevitable - but the bitter is also always sweet for the memories and the love it invokes even as we mourn the physical presence that will not return. Instead, focus on the happy memories large and small and the feeling that person still evokes within you whenever you visit them in your soul.
This has not been the brightest year of my own life - yet I find myself with a multitude of things and people for which to be thankful. Some are longtime and permanent. Some are new, but as or more special than any I have held close to my heart for as long as I can remember. Some things for which I am thankful might surprise you, because to the casual observer they might seem painful or difficult. But the aspects of those events I summon in my heart are the aspects that taught me, that helped me to grow or that allowed me to savor an ongoing relationship with my father which will not be with me forever - and which needs to be celebrated and appreciated every day no mater what.
I wish these quiet moments and purity of reflection to each of you. But then I ask you to take things one step further and to take the time to contact those people for whom you are thankful and who are still with you - to tell THEM how much they mean to you and how much they've helped you become who you are. Don't hide your thanks - share them with those you hold in your heart. Thank you is such a simple thing to say, yet most of us never take the time to truly stop and recognize those important to us. Take the time and you may well be surprised at the kind responses you receive in return as well.
Finally, I ask you to take today's moments of thankfulness and to let them influence your lives in a positive manner EVERY day - to take small breaks from the commotion of daily life and to look for the blessings around you. If times are good, this will come easily. If times are currently less so, I guarantee that you will still find more blessings in your life than you can imagine - and the more you count, the more you will find.
Happy Thanksgiving - today and each day. And THANK YOU for reading!