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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year.  Yes, we all stuff ourselves with a spectacular feast of tasty treats that we often don’t prepare any other time of the year.  Yes, there is always some good football to plop down in front of after doing said stuffing.  But, it’s always been about more than that to me.  To me, Thanksgiving is almost like the cleansing penance that prepares us to be worthy of the coming joy of the winter holidays, whether that mean Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, or another holiday to you.

Now, I know that I’m a day early on Thanksgiving, but with the craziness of the actual holiday I’m not sure I’ll be able to post tomorrow.  Even Friday may be a bit sketchy.  And, I know that the view of Thanksgiving I described above may seem a bit somber, but stay with me.

It is very easy for us to take for granted all that we have in this life.  We see and interact with friends and family on a daily basis.  Our paycheck appears in our account each payday.  We hear the rain drumming on our roofs as we sleep.  After awhile, all of these gifts start to seem like just part of the flow of our lives.  Thanksgiving is a time that most people step back and recognize that these things are in fact the gifts that they really are.

But, beyond that, as our vision clears a bit, we begin to see the places where we have scorned some of the gifts we were given during the past year.  Perhaps we paid more attention to the TV or video game than our family occasionally.  Perhaps we turned down that opportunity to go out with a good friend because we were just too tired.  Our lives are filled with these missed opportunities, most of them minute little smudges on an otherwise well-lived life.

But, every opportunity missed has the potential to be important.  I’ve become something of an expert on missed opportunities over the last year or so.  I’ve made bad decisions that weren’t the minute little smudges, and paid the consequences.  I have shed a lot of tears, and will carry the weight of the holes left in my soul forever.  But, I know that these losses are lessons as well.  And those are mistakes I can never make again.

So, remember to be thankful.  But, also be mindful of the small things that have slipped through the cracks in the past year.  Learn the lessons that those small twinges may have given you and be a more complete and happier person because of it.

I have been blessed with a loving wife who sees me through eyes that paint even my foibles as assets.  I have been blessed with a loving family that has given me forgiveness of which I am undeserving.  And, I have been blessed with good friends who accept me and make me feel as though I have a place where I fit in despite all of my flaws.

This Thanksgiving, I will feel the sting of lessons learned the hard way.  But they will be assuaged by the many gifts that I have been blessed with.

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