I sat down this morning to type a Thanksgiving editorial and realized the big void I have in my life when it comes to this holiday. Don't get me wrong, I have an incredible amount to be thankful for, but this is the one holiday that doesn't have the "roots" with me that many of the other holidays do.
First of all, I grew up in Canada and there Thanksgiving is recognized the second Monday of October. I can't ever remember even getting the day off from school. We didn't have turkeys, cranberries and pumpkin pies, and families never gathered together like they do in America.
Because I have spent the last 30 years in the newspaper business, by the time Thanksgiving comes along I have already had three weeks of Christmas. Thanksgiving often has been just a day to relax and take a breather before the next round of holidays hits me.
Because Thanksgiving Day isn't as significant in my life as many of the other holidays that are celebrated I look at Thanksgiving as a state of mind that I try to honor and celebrate all year long, especially in the fall.
A real eye opener for me came about six years ago when I had an opportunity to live with families and work as a newspaper consultant in rural Russia. The newspapers I worked with were two, three and four time zones from Moscow. That was the first time in my life I witnessed the middle class of a society that literally went to bed hungry and had few, if any of the luxuries that even the poorest of our families seem to enjoy. And consider the fact that Russia isn't even thought of as a third-world country.
I have often pondered on the fact that my life has never been the same since my time in the former Soviet Union. It wasn't just the hunger and lack of money, it wasn't just the fear and uncertainty, but the lack of hope and the scepticism of the future that affected me. Most of us, even in middle class in America, live like kings compared to the rest of the world.
Recently there was a banquet at CEU that was held to bring an awareness to the problem of worldwide hunger. I covered the story on that event and during it I found that only 15 percent of the world eats well.
Thanksgiving isn't just about the abundance of food or the many other gifts that we are blessed with. For me, inside my heart, I begin celebrating Thanksgiving with the first leaves that change to fall colors. Thanksgiving this year began with a drive through Indian Canyon. As I made my way through the canyon I watched the mountain sides and valleys turn from their various hues of green to beautiful reds and yellows. As I drove through that beautiful winding road, my heart was full of the many blessings I have in my life: My wonderful children, a great community, friends, health and hope.
Literature is full of beautiful quotes, about thankfulness and how lucky we are and how we can realize it in different ways. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "Never lose the opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting, a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing." James Russell Lowell penned, "Not what we give, but what we share, for the gift without the giver is bare. Who gives himself with his alms feeds three, himself, his hungering neighbor, and me."
And finally from J. Petit-Senn a verse which I think denotes the meaning of Thanksgiving.
"Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance."