Tomorrow is Thanksgiving which, as we all know, is a unique American holiday. Actually and technically, it's not a "holiday" since that word derives from holy day and Thanksgiving is not a bibically-based celebration. So much for the history lesson.
Those who know me know well that I am not a "holiday" person. I am a creature of habit and a man of routine. And holidays are cause for great celebration and unbridled joy but they also disrupt all routine. So I get antsy when these days rolls around. And as a self-confessed stress junkie, this time of year brings ample stress.
If I had to choose however, I would take Thanksgiving over Christmas any day. I am far from the first to complain about the over-commercialization of Christmas. Each year it seems to expand as merchants try to stretch the holiday gift-giving season by a day or two here, a week or two there. You'd have to be blind not to have seen the Christmas displays in stores BEFORE Halloween. Someday I fear the Christmas discounts will start on July 5th. You laugh now but mark my bah-humbug words on this one.
Back to Thanksgiving. Everyday of my life - and this is the truth - I give thanks for those aspects of my personal little world that make life worth living. So in a sense, everyday is Thanksgiving.
But I think what I am missing and perhaps you too is that I don't fully appreciate the opportunities that we are each given. It's easy to give thanks for health and family and friends. But in some corners of this world, there is no opportunity to enjoy these blessings. What I'm trying to say is that without the opportunity, the other gifts of joy may not even be possible.
So tomorrow, in between the thanks that I will privately give for those many wonderful moments in my life, I plan to also give thanks for the opportunities I have been given. You see, each in our own way, we are given a chance in life. We can build on that opportunity or blow that chance. That's our free will. That's our choice.
Some who tomorrow will mourn the fact that they have little for which to be thankful may need to consider the chances they have squandered or the opportunities they have ignored. Granted, as with all aspects of life, some are given more opportunities than others. It has always been that way and it will remain that way.
Be thankful for your family and the roof over your head. Be thankful for the food on your table. But also take the time to be thankful that you were afforded an opportunity in life to have these precious gifts. Without that opportunity, perhaps none of those other items would be in your life.
And finally - although you may find this odd - be thankful for the mistakes you have made. But only if you have learned from these mistakes and grown as a person. To live a life without mistakes, I suspect, is impossible. The mistakes don't count. It's what you learn and how you change as a result of those mistakes that makes the difference.
I pray your Thanksgiving list is long and growing each day. Add to that list a thank you to those who have given you opportunities and who have offered second chances. They deserve the thanks as much as anyone.