Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Today is Thanksgiving here in Thailand; a day like every other day here.

Thailand does not celebrate or recognize this holiday.

However people do not need any government sanctioning of any specific day to reflect upon, give thanks, and to rejoice for all that is good in their life.

Yes, today is a day like any other day for me here in Isaan. Every day I contemplate, give thanks, and rejoice for all that is good in my life. But it is on American Thanksgiving that I celebrate, share, and communicate it with people other than my wife.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.

Thanksgiving is a time for families to gather together to feast and celebrate the blessings of the past year. I believe that I am an optimist so a day of rejoicing and celebrating the good in life is not difficult. Some years are not as bountiful as others. Some years are more challenging than others. However Thanksgiving Day is a day to be thankful for what we have and not what we wished that we had or to focus on what we do not have. If for no other reason, being alive is reason to give thanks on Thanksgiving. With life there is hope; hope for a better tomorrow or some day after.

This Thanksgiving I am am thankful for so many things that I have. As much as I am thankful for what I have, I am thankful for the many blessings that I have had and some that I no longer can enjoy.

As much as what we have today brings us joy and contentment, it was yesterday and our past that have brought us to today. It is our past that has prepared us for today and for all the days to come.

Today, as for all days, I am thankful for the love, experiences, and guidance that I have received from family and friends who are no longer in this world. They have passed on and I can no longer enjoy their presence. They affected my life in ways that are impossible to quantify or for me to express into words. Shared experiences with them taught me and assisted me in developing my personal values. The memories of shared holidays, vacations, celebrations, and ordinary days with them remain both a comfort as well as inspiration. The gifts of family, companionship and friendship are reason enough to give thanks today as well as every day. I do not consider myself to be unique in this blessing.

I am thankful for having been raised in a country and time where, at that time, excellent quality free public education was available to everyone. A quality free education is a blessing to be thankful for. Even today in many parts of the world, children do not have access to free quality education.

I am thankful for having been raised in a country where I was free to fail and much more importantly free to succeed to the extent that I, myself, determine. My position and goals in life were not restricted by anyone or any institution. My parent's education, occupation, economic, or social status did not limit my prospects. Today, this is not true for many people even in some Western countries.

I am most thankful for the way that my parents raised me. Too often today, people blame their problems on their parents. They blame their current behavior on their parents. Blaming their parents, to them. absolves them of their individual responsibility and accountability for their own actions. I know that my parents did their very best in raising their family based upon what they knew and could at the time. Should we expect any less or demand anything more? I suspect that most parents do the same.

I was taught manners. Manners and etiquette allow individuals to function, interact and thrive in a society with minimal conflict. Manners and etiquette help to define our value and standing as an individual and to our society. The manners and etiquette that I learned as a child have allowed me to integrate into different cultures easily where I have worked and lived. While these may not be a blessing, they are things that I am thankful for.

I was taught that I was not special. I am not certain how well I learned that lesson. I suspect that most people have not completely learned that lesson well. However I learned to not expect or demand special privileges or preferential treatment. I expect to be treated the same as any other person. An off shoot of this lesson that I was taught throughout my youth was the realization that as an individual I had certain responsibilities to the group. I have the responsibility to not demand that the group conform solely to appease my wishes, practices, comfort level, or beliefs. I just want the freedom to be me and for you to have the freedom to be you. I do not necessarily have to conform but that choice is mine to make and I should be prepared for and accept the consequences.

I was taught that I could have anything that I wanted; as long as I first had the money to pay for it. I was taught and more importantly demonstrated each day. I was taught that anything worth having was worth working for. I was also taught that I wanted something bad enough I would work for it. If I was not willing to work for something, I did not need it. The gift of financial responsibility awareness has been a blessing in the past and hopefully will continue to pay dividends.

Today I am also thankful for my families and friends that are part of my daily life.
I am also content.
More and better possessions will not necessarily make me or anyone else happy or content. Happiness and contentment are a state of mind.
It is the longing and preoccupation with what they do not have that prevents so many people from being happy.
I am thankful that I am satisfied with what I have.
I am thankful that I am confident that I can have anything that I want if I am willing to wait and work for it.
I am thankful that I know that I do not need everything that I don't have or many of the things that I want.
These are trying times in the world today. The economic conditions are serious and intimidating. It is very easy to become overwhelmed about what negative things could happen.
I suspect that, especially in America, people are concerned and preoccupied with what the government can or will do to make things better for them - to solve their problems. Creating and giving away money will be no more of a solution or cure than putting a band aid on a cancerous tumor. It may be aesthetically better for awhile but the problem remains and only worsens.
Expecting others to do things for you and to solve your problems is to set your expectations too high - Who says that they will? What makes you think they want to? What makes you think that they can?
I am thankful that I am confident and convinced that I have the power and ability to solve my problems.
One purpose in this blog is to share with the readers how people in other parts of the world live. They are happy and content. They live very differently than people in the western world. Between how we previously lived in America and the way that they currently live, there is a great deal of latitude to be happy.
I am living a life in that zone and I am happy.
Getting to this point in my life has not been an individual achievement. Many people have influenced and contributed to my evolution to this point.
I am grateful and thankful to all who have taught, influenced, touched, trained and showed me how to be the person that I am today - especially my Mom and Dad.
In my travels, I have learned that in Islam, the religion of submission to God and not to man, Muslims do not pray to God for favors for to do so would be to question God's will and who are we to question God's will? I believe that Thanksgiving is a holiday when God is given his due, and not questioned for what he has given or not given to us; a day when we travel along the correct path if but for a short time.
My wish for everyone this holiday season is that you too can realize and appreciate the happiness that the opportunities of life provide.

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