Snap Shot #22: Giving Thanks

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Almost exactly six years ago my family and I were lucky enough to travel to America and experience Thanksgiving with some of the most wonderful people on the planet. It is not a holiday celebrated in Australia so it was a unique experience for my wife and son. Having been born in the U.S., I had seven Thanksgivings before we moved to Canada. While there I had about nine more – but as it is a Canadian custom to copy American rituals and then change them slightly in an attempt to make them uniquely Canadian, these ‘Thanksgivings’ were celebrated in late October and always felt a bit bogus. So I’ve always seen it as a uniquely American celebration and was excited to experience my first one in four decades. It took place at the home of my Aunt and her husband and included all my Californian cousins and their families. Collectively, they are my favourite Americans – so welcoming, open minded, affable and generous of spirit. Of course there was turkey and all the trimmings. But this gathering also included a frightening number of martinis to kick it off, which floored me (almost literally). I don’t recall any formal grace being said but do remember an inspired little moment where we all wrote something we were thankful for on our own little piece of paper. The idea was to then to open and read them the following year (tricky for us but my Aunt thoughtfully sent ours to us that next Thanksgiving). It was wonderful to be encouraged to consciously count your blessings and give thanks to God, Allah, Buddha, The Universe or just Lady Luck – whoever or whatever you wished to attribute your good fortune to. I think it is a fantastic exercise to do at least once a year and commend America for dedicating a day to so. Definitely one of the high points of American culture. However, as another Thanksgiving fast approaches, I fear that this time it may be more of a challenge for my favourite Americans to count their blessings as they brace themselves for the brash rude world of President Trump and his Deplorables. My Aunt sent me a brief email after the election saying that she felt more despair for her country now than she did when Kennedy was shot. I tried to allay her fears by saying that now he had won, it was unlikely that he’d actually do most of the crazy shit he ranted about. But then, I’m on the other side of the world enjoying free health care. So I very much feel for her and her family. But perhaps that’s the true value of Thanksgiving – while it’s easy to be thankful when all is relatively well, the real challenge is to do so when your world has been turned upside down. And that’s when the truly important things shine through –  like the love and well being of one’s family and friends. I’ve no doubt that for my favourite Americans, and many like them throughout their country, this will be a Thanksgiving marred by trepidation. Yet I also have faith that their values are so good and true, that these will shine through to give them all the strength and resilience they’ll need to get through the Trump years. Having said that, I will take the time this Thanksgiving to count my own blessings – which will include the fact that Donald J. Trump will not be not my president.

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