Few know what it is like to truly have nothing. No home,or family. Just your mind. Alone with your mind. Sometimes it's hard to think we even have that.
November rolls up, and when I think of November, I immediately think of Thanksgiving. I try to remember exactly how much I have, how lucky I am to have my family, food on the table, and education and a life ahead of me. Thanks, for all that life has given me.
It's hard to stop and think how lucky we really are to have all the things we do. The obvious things, yes, like a roof over your head and people around you who love you, but what about the smaller things that we are thankful for. Those little, precious things that we feel lucky we have, dreams to some people in parts of the world.
The house looks forgotten. Dilapidated and pitiful. A family lives in that house. A mother and her three kids. It is their home, they know no other. You can't help but wincing at the state of it. No car is parked out front, so with a quick glance down the street to see if anyone is coming, you hurry up to the beaten porch to look through the windows. The inside, sure enough, looks as bad as the outside. You feel guilty, and start to walk away when something catches your eye. You look hard into the window again. There, near the back of the living room, you see it. It is a gorgeous hand carved wood table. It was dusty, but you could even admire the craftsmanship of it from your spot at the window. Your breath runs short. A table you would expect in some mansion was in this house. Beautiful. Puzzled, you turn away again, but something stops you. Right there on the porch, you look up to the sky, and clasp your hands. "Lord, thank you for giving this family something so wonderful. For letting them have a piece of life in their home."
Even the small things deserve thanks. Whether it's an old tree in your back yard that has stood the sands of time for years and years, and brings joy to the neighborhood to this day, or even the amazing color of your sister's eyes, forever may they carry her.
I speak for all of when we say it's hard to admit how much we really do have, and how we don't appreciate it. I never think of how hard my parents have to work to keep us happy, with new electronics, new clothes. It hurts to know I don't thank them enough. Every grain of wood in our house, every book, every mismatched sock, should be appreciated. Life, as a whole, should be appreciated.
Thanksgiving is also a time, not just to appreciate things, but the people in our lives, too.
If you know me well, then you have probably heard my stories of Ray, one of my good friends. He is quite a character, maybe not in all the ways you'd like. In elementary and middle school, Ray was trouble. Not flicking erasers across the classroom trouble, or smart comments to the teacher trouble, but real trouble. At a young age, he was into some scary stuff, and, following his brother's examples, some say, was an extreme difficulty in school. I knew him from middle school on, and I have to admit, he was scary at times. But he changed, slowly. I was talking to him about this the other day. His eyes kind of got glassy, and he said after a long while. "I never realized how many people were trying to help me, how much they loved and cared about me. I was destroying myself." It almost made me cry. Thanksgiving is, truly a time to give thanks to all those wonderful people in your life who care, love, and want to protect you. Your parents, your brothers and sisters. Your friends, your teachers. Even strangers you want to make a difference in your life. Thanks to all of these people who open countless doors and knock down endless barriers to give you a future and help you succeed in life.
He told me one more thing before we parted that afternoon,
"Them not giving up on me, telling me there was another person inside of me, I found myself. To think that I didn't care."
Thanksgiving. Cheers! To friends, family, and the house that covers your head as you read this. To the stuffed animals that still line your bed, to books, music, to trees, water, the earth, and to the people you make this so real and wonderful for every single one of us.