Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Day of Thanks


Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US. It is a day to pause and think about the wonderful things in our lives and to be properly thankful for them. The holiday had its beginning nearly 400 years ago as a harvest festival. It represented survival in very difficult times.

In our modern times, Thanksgiving Day is just another holiday. It is a day that most of us don't have to work. Many people travel to visit family. Others travel to take a vacation. In my house, we plan on preparing a feast (and probably eating too much). We plan on watching sports on TV. I suspect that I will take a nap during the afternoon.

I am thankful for so many things. This morning I walked through my house and thought about the journey I have taken to get where I am today. I was fortunate to have been born in a country where I was able to acquire an education that allows me to earn a middle-class income so I can take care of my family. We never have to worry about having a place to live or having enough food to eat.

I stood in the bedroom doorway for a moment. My wife was still sleeping. I watched her for a moment, fortunate to have found someone to journey with me though life. Later today, we will talk to our daughter and her family. We will hear about how they spent their holiday. We are so proud of how she has grown into an independent adult, with her own family and responsibilities. We will check in with our parents later, too. They are aging, but still independent and full of life.

I am so grateful for my many teachers over the years. My formal education prepared me for a lifetime of learning. My education as an adult has been much more informal. I have had teachers that taught me life skills that provide unbelievable enrichment by teaching me to be physically and mentally healthy through my tai chi and meditation. Too many to list without omitting someone.

I have a network of friends and contacts that live all around the world. I am so happy to have met so many wonderful people. Many of them are people that I have only met online, but that really isn't much different than meeting in person. We communicate regularly and share thoughts and ideas. I have worked with and shared with wonderful people from China, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, UK, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa, Canada, Israel, Ghana, and from all over the US. People from 140 nations have read articles on my blog.

I have truly been blessed.

But for many people, it is a very stressful day. Traveling though bad weather and snowstorms, striving for the "perfect" meal for the family, wanting to have a "perfect" day. Many people are too busy to pause and be thankful. Many people live alone and don't have anyone to share the day with them.

But the stress that we impose on ourselves is trivial compared to the real problems of people. Many people don't have enough food or a place to live. In 2012, about 16% of people in the US had incomes below the poverty line. The poverty line is the amount of income where a person or family lacks those goods and services commonly taken for granted by members of mainstream society. Worldwide, about 2,400,000,000 people live on $2 a day or less.

According to government statistics, about 800,000 people in the US are homeless at any given time. As many as 3,500,000 are homeless in any given year. They sleep in shelters, on the street, or in their cars. It has happened in my family.

Please be generous and find ways to help those that need food and shelter all over the world. Try to find ways to help those that need peace. It is the responsibility of every single one of us to make the world a better place. Who else can do it, if not you and me?

© 2013 Eric Borreson