On Being Thankful….

Thanksgiving looms on the horizon and excited cooks and epicureans everywhere are busy planning and shopping for their feasts. The holidays are a happy time, aren’t they? I am happy at the prospect of cooking my favorite dishes, the smell of the house filled up with spices and goodness, diet abandoned and commitment to satiate your taste buds perfectly acceptable. Of course, there is also spending time with family and friends…but for some, my self included, that is a double edged sword. Are there any normal families or is that simply a misnomer? 🙂

But this Thanksgiving is different for me….I am happy about all the usual things but I have to pause and contemplate the state of the people around me and it is sobering. So many people right now are unemployed. What kind of holiday will they have this Thanksgiving? When it is time to spend that extra $$$ for food to make their feast will they be able to make the grade? If they are one of the many millions of homeowners who have lost their homes to the mortgage crisis where will they hang their hat this season? Will it be a new shade of hell as they can’t help but recall the homes they put so much of their love and lifeblood into but is now lost? And what of the homeless and the brutal cold that is winging it’s way towards us to complicate their plight? The numbers of the homeless have risen disproportionately and are reflected in our streets, on food lines, at Church giveaways. What of the everyday couples that I see struggling with coupons in the supermarket, trying to figure out what they can do without? Do you see them too or are you one of the blissfully unaware who read the headlines but remain intact and therefore unchanged?

The worst feeling I ever had was last Christmas in Target. The store echoed eerily with the absence of shoppers. For once, we did not trip over people in the aisles or curse the overly enthusiastic and inconsiderate people. Those that were present, stood hunched, wraith-like in the aisles, hovering over merchandise with worry creasing their brow as they shopped for what little they could afford.   As a forty something year old, I have been lucky to live my life without being a witness to mass deprivation…until now and it has changed my entire perspective.

This year, I am truly thankful. Thankful for my home, thankful for my love and friends and family. Thankful that my journey and struggles continue and that my life, while tremendously altered by the economy, is still recognizable. I am thankful that my interior landscape has been altered and cleared of unnecessary, material obsessions to make room for consciousness, awareness and compassion. Be aware….be thankful.

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