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Relativity of thanks

Thanksgiving is a relatively simple celebration for most folks, when you take away the technical aspects of preparing turkeys and fixings.

Families and friends gather in homes or restaurants for a meal. More often than not, someone recites a lengthy but sincere prayer as communal affirmation of things for which thanks is given. Some groups call on individuals to name something they are thankful for. Everyone eats, most more than they should, and then they spend time enjoying each other’s company, napping, or in recent years mapping out shopping strategies for Black Friday.

Alas, not all of us find it so simple. The older I get, the more of a conundrum Thanksgiving presents.

My preparation these days starts with a proper purge, working to rid myself of thoughts about all of the things I would be thankful for if only I had them: professional-grade camera, motorcycle, unlimited travel funds to celebrate with family on opposite sides of the country, girlfriend, and fresh sushi, available every day, chief among them this year. It feels disingenuous to wake up on Thanksgiving in a state of “if only.”

Then I have to contend with the struggle of contrast, the “I’m thankful I’m not like them” mentality. It plays out for me and others by thinking about how much better off I am than so many people in the world. I began feeling a few years ago that I was being a little arrogant about that. Perhaps, after all, those folks I might consider “less fortunate” are quite content and thankful for the lives they have; some may even be thankful they’re not like me.

Once I’m through with my mental gymnastics, Thanksgiving becomes simple again for me. Having banished all those thoughts, it’s easy to see what I’m truly thankful for, and that is to have one more day to experience the miracle of life. Thanksgiving, for me, is a day to be fully appreciative of the moment, and to revel in whatever simple things the day has in store for me, whether it’s celebrating with others or enjoying the solitude of a country drive.

It doesn’t matter who I’m with, what I eat, what I’m doing, or what I have with that attitude. Barring any abrupt departure from the planet, I’ll devote my appreciation Thanksgiving Day to the greatest thing I possess: life. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

— David Colburn

Last modified Nov. 24, 2015

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