American writer Edward Sandford Martin once said that “Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”
Seeing as Martin was born in 1856, his reference to man can now be taken to refer to all people, women too. The official celebration of Thanksgiving only shows up once a year in October for us Canadians, served with a fresh dose of turkey. Being thankful for one day out of 365 is not even close to enough, especially when we realize how lucky we are in Canada.
We have a lot to be thankful for. Of course we have our share of poverty. Of course we have our share of loss, homicides and countless other crimes or desperate situations. But compared to a lot of places in the world, we have plenty and for that we should be grateful all the time — we should spend this coming Thanksgiving with the people who matter most if we can, such as family and friends.
I know I am not alone when I say I have family who love me, friends who care for me and a community that welcomes me. I have a roof over my head, something to eat at least three meals a day and snacks in between if I feel like it. My water is clean, as are my sanitation rights.
When I get up in the morning, I get off of a bed and have the ability to brush my teeth. I have a job and before work I choose what clothes to wear instead of worrying about if I’ll live another day.
I have a university education from a respectable school and earlier this year I bought my first car with my own money. If I ever got in trouble, there are people I could turn to for help when I need it. I live in a democracy, not a dictatorship where I spend every waking moment trembling with fear. I can read and write.
The list goes on. When you take your ordinary problems or worries of the day and compare it to someone living in a Third World country, it doesn’t amount to much. According to UNICEF statistics in 2010, about 80 per cent of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. I can’t even imagine what it would be like living on $10 a day. Many people spend that amount in Canada on a cheap lunch.
UNICEF also stated 22,000 children die each day from poverty. The site says that not only do many children die each day, but they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on Earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
I could go on with statistics that will make your heart wrench. But I don’t want people to take away a negative message from everything. There are a lot of people far, far worse off than we are in Canada. There are too many people in the world for an individual to possibly help them all. It’s a tragic, but a true fact of life.
So we need to cherish what we have for as long and as often as we can. There are 24 hours in a day, or 1,440 minutes in a day, or 86,400 seconds in a day. Each second we breath, we should be thankful we are alive.
Each moment we share or endure we should be thankful for the people surrounding us. Each passing year we embrace, we should be thankful for the years we’ve had and the moments we have yet to treasure.
So sure, maybe we don’t have everything we’ve ever wanted or in some instance what we’ve needed. But we shouldn’t waste so much time focusing on what we don’t have and take some more time on a regular basis to acknowledge what we do have and be thankful for it.
In our busy lives it’s easy to forget what we have. But it only takes a moment to say, “Thank you,” as we all should more than just when the turkey comes to town.