Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s an American tradition and the day we give thanks for all we have … thanks for the things, the conditions and the people we may take completely for granted the other 364 days of the year.
What I love most about Thanksgiving is the purity of it.
Notice how we don’t buy each other gifts. You know, the holiday gifts we must make sure are at least as good as the ones we think we will receive. The gifts we cannot afford. The gifts we end up paying for many months after the holiday has passed.
Notice how it does not matter what religion we practice. Anyone can celebrate Thanksgiving. It is the holiday that celebrates diversity and inclusion … kind of like how our forefathers envisioned us as a country.
Notice how there aren’t any goofball, make-believe characters we have morphed into being the icon of Thanksgiving. Not even the turkey has taken on any meaning, other than being food for our feast. Now I don’t have anything against Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny … they are great fairy tales for kids. They just don’t have anything to do with Christianity, nor does spending billions of borrowed dollars to celebrate these characters.
Gratitude carries such amazing power. Gratitude instantly reshapes our over-amped ambitions, competitiveness, and rat-race mentality. Gratitude heals many wounds, and every relationship, when we give it a chance.
"If you want to give someone a gift that will really make a difference—a gift they will remember and will likely keep forever—write them a letter about how much you appreciate them, love them and cherish them. Tell them the specific things they do and who they are that is such a gift to you. It is free, but priceless."
Today, I am reminded of, and celebrate, those qualities of my life for which I am thankful. I share them with you here, so that you will perhaps make a list of your own. Carry them in your heart all year, and all your years to come are guaranteed to be more peaceful, loving and abundant.
I am thankful for:
My wife and life partner, Kimmy. It took us a long time to find each other. We had to enjoy and endure a lot for our paths to join. “Worth it” does not do it justice. This woman brings such joy, love, light, fun and growth to my life. She, of course, makes me “want to be a better man.”
My health … for without it, nothing else matters much. This is the area of my life I still take for granted, and I do make improvements every year.
My friends … you know, the ones who do not have a vested interest in any of my outcomes; they are just my friends. Period. No matter what, they are always there and always will be.
My experiences … some extraordinary, some frightful. Some I am happy to have out of the way, so I do not have to go through them in the future. They have given me great empathy, some wisdom, and have fed my infinite curiosity about life, people and places.
My financial freedom … which gives me so many things. Freedom to pursue my passions: flying, poker, real estate, personal development, exploration, and business. The peace of mind that we will never be homeless, forced to take a meaningless job, or be in a position to not take care of a loved one.
My associates … so much of my freedom and peace of mind comes from the loyalty, gratitude and commitment of the people with whom I work: sales leaders, office staff, corporate leaders and customers. I vow never to take any of them, or their efforts, for granted; for without them … well, I would just have to start over. No fun.
My country … what extraordinary good fortune, for most of us, that we live in Canada or the U.S. As selfish, immature and twisted as some of our country’s political, business and religious leaders are, we still are the place where people die every day in an attempt to come here. People will die this week in pursuit of the level of religious freedom we enjoy; in pursuit of this economic opportunity; in pursuit of our Bill of Rights. They will give their lives attempting to cross our borders, or an ocean, to freedom. They will pay a king’s ransom and risk their lives, just for a shot at the life we take for granted.
Several years ago, I hopped on a plane to Havana, Cuba, and spent a week wandering the streets of the old district. The city looks like the ornate parts of San Francisco, but almost like the city has been at a stand-still since 1956. There has been no maintenance of the infrastructure since then. The plumbing does not work anymore. Water is pumped from trucks to tanks on the rooftops; sewage drains into the streets. Electricity, when it does work, is hand-strung from dwelling to dwelling. People live in almost cave-like condos they have carved out of the rubble. I met a lady who lived in a room as small as our bathroom. She had lived and raised her family there since 1958, with the same refrigerator. How many of us have the same anything from 1958?
People in Cuba are so scared of Fidel and Raúl, they lower their heads and whisper at midnight in their own homes when you ask about them. Many Cubans have made a run across the sea to Florida. Some of those I met on my trip did not make it when they fled. For every day at sea, they get a year in prison. Prison in Cuba is so bad, the manliest of men could not speak to me about it.
Cuba is 90 miles off our coast. In a fast boat, they could be here in less than an hour. They occasionally get to read our magazines or catch a radio broadcast, but other than that, they are living on dreams … the dream of one day living in the USA or, better yet, of having America come back to them. If you are thankful for nothing else this Thanksgiving Day, be thankful you live where you do. Any of us could have easily been born 90 miles south of the wrong border.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this day was the most celebrated day in our year?
Celebrated by us truly giving thanks, saying thank you, and meaning thank you?
I do thank each of you for the part you play in my life. Without you, it would be maybe a little, or maybe a lot, different. I love it just the way it is.
– Richard –