Happy Thanksgiving. Today is a day for giving thanks and for taking time to feel gratitude.
Apparently this obvious truth needs to be repeated, because Verizon, in what surely must be the worst, most perverse holiday ad ever, has renamed today “Thanksgetting” — as in getting more of what they would like to sell. This surely must be the bottom of the deep pit of materialism and meaninglessness that retailers would like us to sink to.
But let’s not. Even those of us who are in a bad mood or a bad time in our lives can find many reasons for gratitude.
Let’s start with our socks.
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If they are cotton, we can be grateful to the farmer who planted the cotton, to the sunlight and water that made it grow, to the many people who go to work every day to make cotton into yarn and yarn into socks, to the truck drivers and train conductors who drive those socks to stores, and to the people who arrange those socks in the store, sell them to us and go home tired at the end of their shift.
If our socks are wool, we can be grateful to the sheep who grew the wool, to their shepherds and sheep shearers, and to all the people, at all the steps of spinning, knitting, sizing, and shipping, and to the people who sell them to us to keep our feet warm. And if they were hand-knit by grandma, then we certainly ought to give her a giant hug. It’s quite a feat to knit yarn into the shape of a sock, and knitting two of them that turn out the same size is even more impressive.
Here’s something else we can all be grateful for: leaves. Right now they are all over the sidewalks and streets in town, and on the ground in pastures, woods, and parks. This may cause complaint when they plug up a storm drain, but each one of those leaves helped provide the oxygen we breathe, shade from the hot summer sun, and habitat for birds and insects. And as they rot on the forest floor, they enrich the soil and keep worms in business.
These two examples — socks and leaves — are just the starting point for gratitude for all the ways our fellow humans work to feed, clothe and house one another, and for all the gifts of nature that sustain us as we go about our lives.
It would be a worthwhile exercise to work from the ground up — from socks to eyeglasses or haircuts — and inventory all we have to be grateful for on us, and then to do the same with all that is outside us — from leaves to trees and flowers, the sun and moon, the cosmos … but of course that would take a lifetime.
There’s just so much we take for granted, and so much good in the world we fail to even notice. The events of the day distract us from the fact that the vast majority of humans live in peace, that human kindness is an inexhaustible, renewable resource, and that each of us is filled with the capacity to do good in our world.
So yes, happy ThanksGIVING. We wish you all a day of peace and joy.