Today is my 56th birthday. There's nothing remarkable about the 56th, other than the fact that you made it another year. But, I'm thankful for having reached this point, nonetheless.
Next year, as happens about once every eight years, my birthday will land on Thanksgiving. Anyone who celebrates their birthday in conjunction with a major holiday will tell you, it's not always a lot of fun having to share your special day with lots of other people celebrating for a different reason.
Personally, I love the idea of my birthday falling on a holiday that is all about giving thanks, eating copious amounts of food, and falling asleep on any piece of soft furniture in the house. The only real trade-off is that you don't always get a separate birthday cake and have to settle for pumpkin pie, pecan pie, candied yams or ambrosia instead.
Falling so closely to Thanksgiving every year, my birthday becomes more of a reflective event than a celebratory one. Though we have often lost sight of what Thanksgiving is about, even at its most basic, we know that we need to take a moment to consider the blessings that we have in our lives. Sometimes, that involves only the short moment during the blessing of the meal, offering a short thanks for the events of the year. Sometimes, it means going around the table and having each person offer up a short litany of their thanks.
But, there's only a few of us who have the chance to recite our thanks, share them with others and examine them, one by one. We who do such a public sharing do it because one of the things we're grateful for is that all of you let us into your lives each week. You tolerate us as we ruminate on the many things that make up our lives. Sometimes you disagree with us. Other times, you find a slender thread of agreement with something we've said, and it leads to even more areas of common agreement.
So, here goes!
I'm thankful for being able to shine a light on the lives of the people in my community. They are the foundation upon which the rest of my life is built, and they provide me comfort in the roughest of times.
I'm thankful for a family that is loving, smart, honest, demanding and funny. We argue, we laugh, we cry and we celebrate. We're far from perfect; but, we're perfect for each other.
I'm thankful for my friends. They are young, old, male, female, refined and raw. They have known me for decades, for a few years, or even a few months. They make me stronger by not accepting everything I do. They make me better by accepting me as I am. They make me whole by filling in the blanks in my own life.
I'm thankful for my country. It's not perfect; but, it's always trying to improve. It's not finished finding itself; and, it's always trying to get to a better place. It's not just my country, it's our country, and we have to work together to make it the country we deserve.
I'm thankful for my faith in God. It is my own relationship, it is a shared relationship, and it is a unique relationship. It gives me strength when I'm weak, guidance when I'm lost and solace when I'm feeling adrift.
I'm thankful that I've made the choices I have in my life. They've not all been good (some have been phenomenally bad); but, they've led me to the place I am today. If I had taken another job, if I had fallen in love with someone different, if I had moved somewhere else. All those decisions, and many more, have led me to this chair, on this day, in this town.
Thank you, all of you, for being part of my life and allowing me to be a part of yours. Thank you, some of you, for making me family when we share no common blood. Thank you, a small number of you, for just being yourselves and showing me directions I don't really want to go.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Count your blessings, and share them with the people who helped make them possible.
It's all just my opinion.