published Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Still much to be grateful for at Thanksgiving

It's no secret we are living in uncertain times. The economy is weak, the job market is shaky, and natural disasters seem to be occurring across our country more frequently than ever before.

If you only listen to the news media, you might be fooled into thinking there is nothing to be thankful for this year. If that's where you are, here is some food for thought.

  • In America you can occupy Wall Street and not be hauled off to jail as long as you are law abiding.

  • Our judicial system says that people are innocent until proven guilty versus other countries where you are assumed guilty until you can prove your innocence.

  • Everybody in America is entitled to an education.

  • There are laws to protect children from sex trafficking and women from being beaten by their husband.

  • People are not forced to serve in the military, and citizens are allowed to travel freely between states as well as out of the country. No one is forced to participate in one religion, and individuals are not killed for speaking out against the president.

If you think about it, there are plenty of other things that could be added to this list. America may not be perfect, but the forefathers of our country clearly gave us a great deal for which to be thankful.

This week, as you prepare for Thanksgiving, perhaps you can make time each day to consider ways you have been blessed.

Do you have five friends in your life who have carried you through the tough times and celebrated with you on the mountaintop. When was the last time you told them thank you?

Are there teachers, coaches or other educators who influenced you as you made decisions about your career path? Do they know how they impacted your life?

What about family? It has been said that you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. If your family has been there for you through thick and thin, have you told them how much you appreciate them? For those whose families bring back negative memories, is there anything at all positive that came about as a result of being part of this family? Did you break a cycle of addiction or become passionate about something in life? If so, have you told them?

Do you have a job? Even if it isn't your dream job, the fact that you are working is a blessing. It is easier to find a job when you have a job, and any money coming in these days is worth celebrating.

Who knows? There may be some things that happened in the past year that seemed awful at the time but actually turned out better than you anticipated, and a word of gratitude is in order.

It is easy to coast through our normal routines and get caught up in all the negative. Saying thank you through a note, a phone call or a personal visit could make a huge difference in someone's life ... including your own.

Happy Thanksgiving!

E-mail Julie Baumgardner at julieb@firstthings.org.

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