Thursday, November 26, 2015

And Just Be Thankful

I have so many things for which to be thankful. At the top of my list is our daughter (who is spending her first Thanksgiving away from us today) and my wife to whom I've now been married for 29 years, almost to the day (our anniversary was on Tuesday). I'm also thankful for my mother and father who I'll be seeing in few hours, along with my brother and sister and their families and every dog who has ever been my companion. And then there are the children and families that make up, and have always made up, the Woodland Park Cooperative School community, people who, in a very real sense, created the man I am today. I would not trade my life for any other: if I could do it all again, I'd do it exactly the same way, mistakes and all. 

Not long ago, I read about a survey in which it was reported that the average American, no matter our socio-economic station, felt we could be economically satisfied with about 10 percent more money. This was true of both billionaires and paupers. I suspect this is true about most of the good things in our lives. I know I could, for instance, do with about 10 percent more sleep, 10 percent more free time, and 10 percent more sex in addition to that 10 percent pay increase. So, as we gather today to reflect upon those things for which we are thankful, it's against a background of always wanting, or of thinking we want, more, a phenomenon that we will prove, as a nation, over the course of the month of consumerism that begins with so-called Black Friday.

Among the many other things for which I'm thankful is the fact that the adults in our family chose some two decades ago to step back from the sales and malls and cash registers. We capped our holiday spending at $5 per person and have placed an emphasis on gifts that are handmade. This means that our holiday experience is about arts, crafts, cooking, and baking, rather than just buying crap. I'm thankful that this is not a season of stress and anxiety for me, but rather one during which I take some time to sit down and meditate on my loved ones while manufacturing some little item that I think they might find amusing or tasty. Often, I'm inspired by things we're doing at school. Last year, for instance, I made melted crayon sculptures, each one created from an entire 64-count box of crayons.

It's probably an aspect of human nature to want more, whatever the percentage. It reflects our urge to strive, the engine of our progress as a species: to reach higher, dig deeper, run faster, and see farther. So I don't want to sound like I'm sitting here judgement of anyone else's striving. One man's trash is another man's treasure and all that.

This morning, I awoke about an hour later than I normally do, but lay there in bed thinking it must be 3 a.m. We live downtown and on normal days when I awake there are the sounds of traffic, construction, and people laughing on the sidewalk, but today even the city is quiet. Everything is closed. Everyone is getting a little extra sleep. I'm thankful to have a day like this to set aside my striving and just be thankful.

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