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Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving

Wow, what an adrenaline surge to sit at a keyboard again with the sole intention of writing! After about six weeks away from blogging, I am a little surprised how much I have missed it and how much I have looked forward to my next blog.

I have been busy. Saying I am busy makes me feel guilty, as I try to live time management and effectiveness, aka Stephen Covey and the Seven Habits. Whenever I even think that I am busy, I feel that I need to correct myself and say that I am not prioritizing or choosing. So, for the last six weeks, I haven’t prioritized writing. I have prioritized some other things, like traveling to China with work, my consulting work, my new company, and time with my family.

I was also celebrating one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving.

I am not a particularly religious person, in the sense of attending church or praying actively. Although I found peace during a rough time in my life with the Catholic church, I couldn’t reconcile the peace and the goodness that I saw in the faith with the hypocrisy in a great deal of the church, particularly in the American leadership. I find hope with the new Pope, but not enough to return to organized religion.

Despite the detachment from organized religion, I have been drawn to the practice of giving thanks, and have particularly embraced the American Thanksgiving holiday as a reason to celebrate and be grateful for all that we are and have.

As a child, Thanksgiving was a rather anti-climactic holiday. Compared to fireworks (4th of July), staying up until midnight (New Year’s Eve), and Santa Claus (Christmas), Thanksgiving didn’t have a lot to offer beyond the morning Macy’s parade on TV. Getting together with extended family was a regular enough occurrence that it wasn’t an occasion in itself, nor was turkey really a child’s favorite food.

As an adult, and especially as I began moving further and further away from home, Thanksgiving began to take on a new meaning. Initially, when far from home meant the “long” drive between Chicago and Kokomo, Thanksgiving was a trip home and a chance to see family and friends. As I grew older and moved even further away, first California, then Sweden, Germany, and back to Sweden, Thanksgiving grew away from family.

For the first few years, I either enjoyed the novelty of doing something entirely different than traditions, like skiing at Heavenly, or I tried to re-create Thanksgiving wherever I happened to be. And I do have to say that the first Thanksgiving in Sweden was a REAL challenge, as I had to buy a real pumpkin, peel it, steam it, strain it, and THEN finally make the pie (of course the crust was scratch, no ready made Crisco pie crusts either). In 2001, canned pumpkin had yet to arrive on the Swedish shelves. That was a fun year, drawing a mixture of new Swedish friends together with a dear high school friend who was also on the wrong side of the pond on Thanksgiving.

Through the rest of the decade, I continued the pattern of sometimes celebrating traditionally, usually by bringing in dear friends to celebrate with, and other times foregoing the holiday in its entirety. I had one Thanksgiving in Germany where I received an email from my dad wishing me a happy Thanksgiving and surprising me that it was already that late in the year (admittedly, that was one of the years that I worked way too much!).

After the birth of my daughter, Thanksgiving as a holiday took on a new and deeper meaning for me. After lying in an ambulance kept alive with fluids and air, surviving an emergency operation, and receiving transfusions, giving thanks turned from being grateful for friends and family, good education, and many opportunities to being glad to have been given the gift of another day.

Another day to know my daughter…

Another day with my husband, mom, dad, sister, and nephew…

Another day with my dear friends and family, near and far…

Another day to encourage and inspire others, to make a small difference…

Another day to live.

And that why is Thanksgiving has come to mean so much to me, and why I have shared it in the last six years with dear friends, family, and colleagues. When you have been given that gift of another day, it is an awful lot to be thankful for.

I meant to write this on Thanksgiving, but chose to prioritize time with family and friends. So, belatedly, happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you can think of something in your life you are thankful for, and please feel free to share it here!

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