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A Meagre One Day To Give Thanks

The act is unjustifiable that either begs for a blessing, or, having succeeded gives no thanksgiving.
Merle Shain

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada. It’s a day set aside to give thanks for our blessings and no matter how meager it may sometimes appear to be, there are is always something for which to be thankful. Typically, families come together to eat turkey dinners with pumpkin pie (and whipped cream) or some other combination of foods that is traditional in their family. Tomorrow, we all pretty much go back to being what we were.

In that way, it’s like Christmas which is a moment that we take time out from yelling at each other to celebrate brotherly (and sisterly) love, embrace peace and prepare for the Boxing Day sales. Most families eat turkey dinners at Christmas too which is why the period between October and December is not celebrated in turkey circles. It’s no fun being invited to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner when you are, in fact, the dinner.

The day after Boxing Day we go back to yelling at each other as if Christmas never happened.

I keep hoping that if we take enough days like Christmas and Thanksgiving and other days like them from other cultures and religions, one of them might actually ‘stick’ to us and we might become a little less bewitched, bewildered and befuddled by this world we have created for ourselves. Who knows, we might even start to appreciate it and each other for longer than it takes to eat a turkey dinner.

Maggie and I spent Thanksgiving Saturday at my sister’s cottage with family. My baby sister and her husband were there as well along with a small flock of nephews and nieces and their children. It was a great day, warm but not overbearing and full of autumn colour and fallen leaves piled up for the kids to jump into. There were those who did some fishing, others who sat on the deck and sipped wine and told stories and a huge prime rib cooking on the barbeque.

There was laughter and not a laptop, smart phone or iPad in sight. For a time it was a reminder that this is the way life and families are supposed to be. This is what we all work so hard to support and we argue about in our politics to protect but usually end up losing or undermining as a result.

Yesterday we went to my daughter’s for a turkey dinner.

I showed my grandson Ben a little magic trick which wowed him – for about five minutes and then he figured out how it was done. It’s a challenge to have a four-year old grandson who’s smarter than you are but I’m doing the best I can. Once again there was laughter and music and not a smart phone, laptop or iPad in sight.

Nobody felt the usual separation anxiety that so many seem to experience during the week as they constantly check for messages and text their way through their days. Nobody called and if they had – well – we all have voice mail.

It occurred to me that we put a lot of unnecessary pressure on ourselves thanks to technology. We are like human servants to digital devices that demand constant attention. It also occurred to me that we allow to many people to disrupt our moments – demanding our attention because they’ve texted us that they’ve just washed their hair and are expecting an immediate response.

It also occurred to me that it is difficult to give thanks for your life when you are so busy messaging you don’t actually have time to really live it or appreciate what is actually important in it. My grandson made me laugh so hard yesterday that I had tears in my eyes. There’s no text message coming in that’s as important or as valuable as that moment and it’s the same for most of us. And yet, we trade away those moments to fiddle with gadgets in the belief that somehow it’s important that we constantly check for messages.

We each get a finite amount of time on the planet. Some get more than others but each of our lives are measured and limited. It’s a sad thing to watch so many spend so much of what time they may have to simply ‘be here’, lost in the anxiety of texting, messaging, phoning and fiddling with their apps. I often wonder if that is what they will give thanks for at the end of their lives or if they will wish they could have that wasted time back.

Maybe not. Maybe they’ll be lying on their deathbeds trying to find the strength for one last text.

As for me – well – I have much for which to give thanks; too much to try and constrain it to just one day a year.  It just seems odd to me that when so many of us have so much, we can barely afford the one day to be thankful for it.

Not to be melodramatic but I’ve almost died eight times sometimes as the result of illness or accident or just dangerously careless behaviour. I’m a slow learner but fortunately was given eight second chances to live this life and it finally occurred to me to stop tempting fate.

Now, I simply appreciate the life I have and give thanks for it every day.  Each day, when I count my blessings, it is the people in my life for which I am most thankful. They have been there with me to support me, to encourage and to love me more than I have deserved.

They are the real blessing in my life and when I count them, I always count Maggie twice.

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© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

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  • Wandering Mind

    Gratitude is one of the hallmarks of the civilized and evolved man. Those who recognize and are aware of the bounty they are favored with are blessed with humility, insight, decency, dignity and most imporrtant of all, selflessness. Those who are less aware and do not understand the need for true gratitude are bathed in their own narcissism and selfishness. As they say, ‘qeulle difference’.

  • matthew brandley

    a very beutiful rant indeed. I was just on a cruise up to new england and canada. st john and halifax in september. no phone or computer. the way life should be! ah the simpler days when I was growing up . the bus tours of the area made me want to live up there just to get away from the hell hole of maryland and the east coast. I long for the beuty of canada and the rocky atlantic coast again. you have indeed a beutiful country and can not wait to visit again. your columns are indeed enjoyable and as always spot on. the gift of life is indeed a gift and should never be taken lightly . I have also learned that the hard way. the best in life to you

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  • Randy

    Well done Bear, well done….