I was shoveling with my middle one this morning and reflecting a little bit on what I was grateful for. There were the usual things, my family, my friends and the like, but I also found myself being grateful that we were in a warm home with the prospect of a Thanksgiving feast and not cold, not homeless. My mind turned to less pleasant things. The situation in France, the plight of the Syrian migrants and their children, about how many dads out there are watching their kids struggle with far more than navigating a driveway with a shovel. My normal format for these postings is to look back on a story about my kids and hopefully offer them a little nugget to grab onto later. Today, as I was thinking about all of the things to be happy about something dawned on me, far too often I am thankful for things that don't happen to me or thankful that I am not walking in someone else's shoes.
So girls, I'll put this right up front, being thankful for the things that don't happen rather than the things that do isn't the best way to go about it. Of course you're thankful that you haven't been visited by illness or that you don't live in a place that leaving your home and praying for the good will of others is your last, best option. To me there are plenty of problems with that thinking, first of all, it creates distance between "you" and "them". Feeling sorry for someone else makes them an "other". It's easy to sympathize with someone, but it's much tougher to empathize. Walking a mile on someone else's shoes puts you in a place where feeling bad for them isn't nearly good enough. I find that it's also short trip from being glad that you aren't in someone else's shoes to wishing that you were in a different set as well. What you have compares to some people seems grand, but that same comparison can take you from a "have" to a "have not" in a hurry depending on whose fence you're looking over.
That all said girls, I'm as guilty as the next guy. There are things I want for, there are places I wish I was and at the same time, I see people on T.V. and in my life that leave me ecstatic that I am where I am. It's a hard lesson, and one I imagine I will spend the rest of my life learning.
Now, if you will afford me a moment to step off my soapbox, We will return soon with booger jokes and funny stories. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hug the ones closest to you and give a thought to those who no longer are. Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to sit down with my family, check out Adrienne's Chardonnay turkey and see if the tryptophan myth has legs.
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