Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Time to be Thankful

Looking back at the last year and how much my life has changed, I'll take today as a moment to pause and be thankful.

In August, I thanked my friends and family for all of their support as I stepped into this new phase of my life. They've been there for me, given great advice (some of which I even took), and I appreciate all that they have given. As I noted then, I would not be here today with out them, but today my thoughts are a little bigger.

I 'borrowed' Norman Rockwell's "Freedom From Want" because we take it all for granted here in the US. As a middle class American, I have been able to get an education, have two kids, eat when and where I want, travel, own nice stuff, get a decent job and so much more. What have I had to give up for it? Not too darn much. I have to work hard, but I am fairly paid for it. I have given up a few things here and there to be able to live as I wanted, but that was mostly a result of my own bad choices. One can argue things aren't perfect here, with $2 gas and a war in the Middle East, a moron in the White House, personal freedoms under attack and medical costs skyrocketing, but honestly, where else would you want to live. My buddy Dan is a conservative. I'm a liberal. We can talk and argue freely. I can call the Vice President a puppet master without worrying about imprisonment (yet). We can travel freely, marry easily (too easily), have as many kids as we want, create personal wealth, or art, worship freely if we wish to. This is truly amazing if you look at the rest of the world. The 102 men, women and children who braved two months of hellish conditions on the stormy North Atlantic to become the first to permanently settle here were remarkable in their fortitude and passion. Their ideals still form the foundation for much of the American psyche. They simply wanted to be free and they were willing to risk everything for it.

We have become so much more complacent about the freedoms we enjoy. I hope we each spend some time today remembering all the people who have sacrificed so that we can gather freely today and choose to pray if we want to, eat heartily, laugh deeply and enjoy all that we have.

Last night, as I read The First Thanksgiving to my children, I realized again how lucky I was to have been able to be complacent. And, as I do nearly every year, I promised I would be less so in the coming year. We’ll see.

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