Since the election, I’ve been dreading Thanksgiving. I’m one of the lucky ones, and everyone that comes to the dinner I host is on the same page politically, so I don’t have that to worry about (I’ve heard some heartbreaking stories of people opting not to spend the holiday with their families to avoid the painful and inevitable fight over the election). Still, it’s a more somber time than most other Thanksgivings, as we worry about what the future holds for our country. But I haven’t been sure if I’d be up to it, all the cooking and scrubbing every surface, and washing bedding to make ready for sleepover guests.
But it finally occurred to me: all the more reason to give thanks this year.
Whether you’re in the unenviable position to disagree with your relatives politically, or you’re just sad and afraid about what’s coming, Thanksgiving is a great time to stop and reflect. What matters? What’s good? How can you help just a bit more?
This year, I need Thanksgiving more than ever. It’s one of my favorite holidays, a time to stop and breathe and laugh with my loved ones, turn on candles and make good turkey, drink and reminisce and plan for the future. I look forward to it for months and it never fails to deliver.
My refrigerator is full, a real blessing not everyone enjoys, my family intact and healthy, my circumstances good. I get to live in a land where I can speak my mind, help chart the course of its future, and respectfully disagree with the government. My house is warm. My water is clean. These are blessings unmatched in most of human history.
I often think about something I once read, that the average person alive today has access to more wonders than kings of just a few hundred years ago. The capacity to jump in a machine and be in a different part of the world in a few hours. The ability to access information on a whim. The luxury of a medicine that kills microscopic organisms that felled millions, including rulers, throughout most of history.
What privilege! What incalculable wealth.
This Thanksgiving, it may be easy to think of the challenges we face. And they’re real. But we’ll be better served to take stock of our blessings. They are innumerable, and, with them, we can continue to make this world a better place.