Thanksgiving 2016

I’m not a naturally thankful person.

I know I’m supposed to be. I’ve heard gratitude is the path to success, or at least to contentment.

Still, I’m much more likely to notice the things that are wrong in my life than the things that are right. I’m much more likely to focus on all I don’t have than on all I have. I’m much more likely to see myself surrounded by half-empty glasses than half-full.

Gratitude, for me, requires focus. It requires a deliberate choice to become aware of the gifts in my life, the things worth giving thanks for. Which, when I make the effort to focus, I realize is pretty much everything.

Today I make the effort to focus on those.

So here, in no particular order, are a few of the gifts I give thanks for in my life.

  • I give thanks for my family, those of blood and choice, for the joys and sorrows and love and pain that is all part of the package of choosing to be close to other humans.
  • I give thanks that I had cancer in 2013 instead of 1983.
  • I give thanks for the amazing machine in front of me, that plays music while I arrange bits into an electronic message that will soon be available to people I will never meet all over the world.
  • I give thanks for abundant food that swells my waistline and spoils in my fridge because we can’t make the time to prepare and eat it all.
  • I give thanks that I live in a place where I can step out my front door and run four miles to work off the food that swells my belly, and my only concern is coming down on a curb wrong and injuring a joint.
  • I give thanks for the abundance and extravagance of the holiday season.
  • I give thanks that I live in a country where we can change our government without violence, where even when the obnoxious can take power without sparking rebellion.
  • I give thanks that I live in a country that is continually trying to become better, even when the process is hard, even when three hundred million of us can’t agree on what better looks like.
  • I give thanks for my chance to serve my country in uniform, and for all those friends who served with me, whether they still serve, or they have left the service, or they have left this earth.
  • I give thanks for a job that pays me well, that allows me to work hard and make a contribution to the world even as I fantasize about what I might do if I could move beyond it.
  • I give thanks for a church home where I can explore, and help others explore, what it means to be a person of faith.
  • I give thanks for love, and joy, and work, and chaos, and exhaustion, and too much to do, and too little time.
  • I give thanks for work and the opportunity to strive and fall short and get up again and again and press on to victory.
  • I give thanks for the people who will read these words, and maybe find comfort or inspiration in them.
  • I give thanks for another day to become what God intends for me.
  • I give thanks for my amazing wife and my wonderful children.

I pray you have a chance today to reflect on what you give thanks for.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.
  • Love, love, love. It’s a beautiful life. You bring the best of the Dalton traits to the table and do battle with the ones that need fighting. Very encouraging to me.

    • H. Scott Dalton

      Thanks, Alyson! Words have been a little hard to come by lately, so it’s good to know when they resonate.