It can seem glib and easy to just say that we should be grateful. The family that’s struggling to make ends meet? The kid that’s being bullied at school? That just got dumped by their boyfriend or cut from the soccer team?
They’re just supposed to be grateful? Because it’s Thanksgiving here in America?
Well, yeah, actually. Nearly two thousand years ago, the writer Plutarch and his family were deep in grief. They had just lost a young child. Work and life and responsibilities loomed as they do for so many of us. Gratitude was the furthest thing from their mind. But Plutarch caught himself. In a famous letter he composed on grief to his wife, he would write, “as long as there are others who would gladly choose your fate, even including our present state, it is awful of you, the bearer of that fate, to complain and grumble.”
In a sense, he was searching for a way to be grateful. A perspective that allowed him to get outside the immediacy of his pain and anger and find a different way to see it. As it happens, thinking about other people is almost always the way to do that.
How many people would trade places with you in a second? How many of them stay awake at night dreaming for just one day of the peace and privilege you take for granted? Yeah, it’s tough having a teenager–but some parents will never get that. Yeah, your own parents (or in-laws) are frustrating, but again, coming out of a pandemic, some people are sitting around deeply missing that frustration. Think of the citizens of Ukraine, dodging missiles on the way to work or school. Think of the citizens of Russia, fearing their tyrannical leader. Think of the people who are scrimping and saving just to put anything on their children’s plates today.
There is so much to be grateful for, every second, every minute we’re alive. That fact that we are alive is the very first thing. The fact that we know luxuries and technologies that our most recent ancestors could not even imagine is another. The fact that we are smart enough, capable enough, self-aware enough to even stop and consider our emotions–instead of being prisoners to them, as so many are–is another. The fact that we have our children and they us? A gift from the gods.
Today and always we should be grateful. To choose resentment or envy, bitterness or fear, anxiety or anger–because your flight was delayed? Because your band teacher is a jerk? Because your marriage fell apart? This is to spit in the face of so many people who have so much less.
Gratitude, always. That is the way.
We are thankful today and every day for all of you. Thank you for being a part of the Daily Dad community!