Today is Thanksgiving Day, a time originally set aside to thank God “for his kind care and protection of the People of this country.”

Today the meaning has expanded so that we pause with family and friends to give thanks for the benefits we have received and to appreciate those who help others. Here, some random thoughts on thankfulness:

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”


Most of us, at one time or another – probably many times – fail to grasp what is ours by birthright, by chance or by design. That, in the end, is the point of today’s observance. In addition to feasting on turkey, reveling in family and watching too much television, this is a day to take the time to comprehend all that is right. And it’s a lot.

Take a blank sheet of paper and in the middle, put a small dot. Show it to a friend. Does he see a dot or does he see a largely blank page on which he can do whatever he wishes? For most of us, life remains a blank page awaiting only our own creativity, faith and persistence, and nowhere is that more true than in this country. That is something for which we may be thankful – daily, if not hourly.

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”

Desmond Tutu

A wag once observed that family are those people who know you best – and who love you anyway. It’s as funny as it is accurate. At its best, family is a refuge from the pressures of the world, an escape from the insanity that hounds us to, well, the insanity with which we are comfortable. Yes, families can be challenging, but so can wealth. We can be thankful for our families and for all the challenges that make life interesting.

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”

Albert Schweitzer

If our families love us despite ourselves, what can we say of friends? Families are conscripts; friends are volunteers. And we don’t mean Facebook friends, those people on whom we foist our politics, our opinions and our sometimes questionable humor. These are real friends – the kind that last a lifetime, who worry about you, inspire you and sometimes even rescue you. For those, we should be on-our-knees thankful.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Oprah Winfrey

Never think things are so bad that they couldn’t get a little worse. However trying life becomes, each of us has it better than someone else, and probably someone not too distant. That’s the fundamental point about thankfulness. A grateful heart keeps life’s inevitable stresses and disappointments in perspective.

“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”

Woody Allen

So does a sense of humor, especially for those who can laugh at themselves. It’s evidence of a grateful heart.

In any case, it’s funny when milk comes out of someone else’s nose. Gravy would be even funnier.

Happy Thanksgiving.