Monday, November 26, 2007

What I'm Thankful For

(photo by me)

Still here?

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. I've been inundated with work these past few weeks; I recently finished producing a 30-page report for my boss, which felt like giving birth to a 30-pound child (not that I'll ever know what that feels like, ladies). Then the Thanksgiving break, and now. The run-up towards Christmas. I have a buttload of stuff to get done before the birth of our Lord, as I'm sure many of you do as well. Deadlines to meet. Presents to buy. Vacation to take. And hopefully, posts to write :) To those of you that still check back here every day for a new entry (I know you are out there), thank you so much. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have the strength to keep writing, albeit infrequently.

Today, some words about Thanksgiving.

Take out the gluttony and the dysfunctional family get-togethers. Take out the stress of cooking a huge family meal. Take out the monstrous Black Friday crowds. When you strip it all down, Thanksgiving is actually a damn fine holiday. It's not nearly as commercialized as Christmas, and the message is one that hasn't been as lost in the haze of fat men dressed in red suits and hideously decorated trees.

Give thanks.

And the follow-up question is simple: What are you thankful for? Really, if you're an American, the answer is so much. Way more than we deserve.

I went to go see Beowulf last week, in IMAX 3D. The friends I saw it with didn't like the film, but, at the very least, found it a fun ride. I actually genuinely enjoyed the film, with its bravura action sequences and its mature themes. But what struck me about the moviegoing experience wasn't the film or even the 3D glasses. Instead, it was the fact that a woman had passed out from the room's heat while waiting in line (the shows were all sold out). When I arrived at the theater, there was a fire truck, a police car, and an ambulance all there with a stretcher, making sure she was going to be okay. I wondered why a woman fainting warranted such extensive expenditure of resources, but since I live in a suburb, I decided that that was probably the most excitement the local hospital, fire, and police departments were going to have that night.

It's remarkable to me that in a world rife with death and inhumanity, that we for the most part live in a country where we can rely on a tremendously reliable public infrastructure. For most of the people that are reading this blog, we can be assured that when we pick up the phone to call 911, someone will be there to answer the phone. We know that when we go to our sink, drinkable water will come out. We know that food is just a few miles down the street at the local grocery store.

Give thanks.

In his 1941 State of the Union address, President Roosevelt spoke of the Four Freedoms, the freedoms that everyone in the world ought to have:

1. Freedom of speech and expression
2. Freedom of religion
3. Freedom from want
4. Freedom from fear

As Americans, we enjoy these freedoms but some of them are so subtle, we can't pull our minds out of our problems and be thankful for all the things we already do have. As the holiday season approaches, with its often immense ferocity, I pray that I'll have the solitude to understand how much we really have, how much I've personally been given. And I hope that I'll be in the frame of mind to remember who has given it all to me.

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