This year we will spend Thanksgiving in the Rumson, New Jersey home of one of my sons. The home is beautiful, dating back to the early 1900’s. As a matter of fact, F. Scott Fitzgerald played in this house as a child and years later, described this very home in his famous “Great Gatsby.” When I enter through the cast iron gates, I imagine Thanksgiving guests arriving in their horse-drawn carriages to the front entrance where a line of servants welcomed them. At the Thanksgiving table guests likely gave thanks for their family, a good harvest year, and surviving the plague. How much simpler things must have been in those days, or perhaps uncomplicated is a better word.
Today while we have the benefits of modern transportation, electronic communication, and advanced medicine, life is anything but simple. As we approach Thanksgiving 2013, I am reminded how simple it is to give thanks when things are all going well. When everyone is happy, healthy, and productive, the things we are thankful for are right in front of us, easy to recall. At our Thanksgiving table each year we take turns giving thanks. Husbands recognize their wives, wives recognize their husbands and children. The adults talk about being grateful for good health, family, and friends. The children express thanks for their brothers and sisters, teachers and coaches, and the roof over their heads. Yes, when all is good, it is easy to give thanks.
This year, everyone is well, but we have experienced a change in our family. Unexpected and unwelcome as change can sometimes be, as a total family we have not yet accepted the change. In our discomfort, we have failed to be what we need to be to one another. So verbalizing our thanks may be a bit of a stretch this year. Yet we still have our health and whether we know it at this moment or not, we still have one another for support. The children still have their brothers and sisters, their schools, dedicated teachers and coaches, and the roof is still over their heads. We have not been victims of plagues or violent storms, and there is always food on our tables. Ours is a complicated world, and we have much to be thankful for.
Since this year things are out of alignment, I am thankful for those intangible gifts that we have that can help us readjust to our new normal. In other areas of our lives, we exhibit the ability to accept change, so I am thankful that we are able to accept this change. We have demonstrated control over our behavior and extraordinary communication skills, so I am thankful for the very skills we need to get grounded again. We usually confront effectively; we can disagree respectively. We are a capable group. We have collectively earned 12 advanced degrees, started businesses, made the news in our industry, and created change in several large organizations. We have brought organizations from operating at a loss to a profitable level, and we are about to take at least one of our companies public. We have combatted illness and forgiven others for their mistakes. There is a lot of power in each of us individually, and even more, in all of us collectively. I am very thankful for that power within us.
This year I will give thanks not for what we have achieved, earned, or purchased but rather for our ability to make things better internally within our family every day, even when it is complicated.
I trust each of you will be thankful for all your blessings and good fortune. Don’t forget to be thankful also for those skill sets that enable you to function in a complicated world.