It is amazing how much can happen in one year, and, if you are like me, it is easy to miss most of it. On this Thanksgiving holiday, as I reflect on this past year, I find myself thankful for so much, and I praise God he has afforded me the life that he has. Now, don’t get me wrong, it has not been an easy year, in fact in some ways it has been one of the toughest years, but the level of our ease and comfort should not necessarily determine how thankful we are. Sometimes I think we feel as though things have to be going well in our lives, or there must be abundance in order for us to move beyond simply being thankful for this or that, and truly be appreciative of the life we have been given.
Life is hard and at the center of the original Thanksgiving was a celebration of that very idea. Despite the challenges, defeats, and failures of their first year in the New World, the Pilgrims celebrated the bountiful harvest they had been blessed with. That first gathering in 1621 was more of a collective sigh of relief that the Pilgrims had survived their first year.
This Thanksgiving you may not have a litany of reasons to be thankful, or maybe this has been a tough year for you and it is hard to be appreciative in the midst of your hurt and frustration. May I encourage you to turn your focus away from what you don’t have and focus in on what you do, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Don’t compare yourself to others, don’t look at what where you are in comparison to where you have been, and don’t compare your life to the ideal in your mind, because all of those can trap us in disappointment. Instead, finds thanks for the people and things that are in your life. If you want, take a moment and share with me what you are thankful for. I would love to hear about it in the comment section below.
For me, I am not thankful for things, but rather I am thankful for people. I have a wonderful family of Pardekoopers and Roberges that fill me with love and comfort and a place to belong. I have been blessed with so many friends from all over the world that bring color, joy, and a healthy level of humility into my life. What I am most thankful for this year, though, is my family at home. My new son, Aiden who is so cute and full of the wonder of life, fills me with joy to the very core of my being. Mostly though, I am thankful for my wife Carissa. She has been such an amazing woman this past year, giving birth to Aiden, finishing her Physician Assistant degree, navigating a cross country move and a new job, all while supporting me as I start my doctorate and loving me through all my quirky intricacies. I am thankful that God blessed me with her and has given me seven amazing years by her side.
Now, as you prepare for the day getting those comfy, forgiving pants on; putting the finishing touches on “all the trimmings”; watching the Macy’s parade; or looking forward to the football games this afternoon; don’t forget to look around the room at the people in your life that love you and the life you have been afforded. There may not be a rich abundance in your life right now and you may feel like you just survived the year to see one more Thanksgiving, but you are here celebrating nonetheless, just like those brave, dedicated Pilgrims were on that very first Thanksgiving day.