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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgrabbing!

Happy Thanksgrabbing is the title of a column in last Sunday's newspaper, and it seems very appropriate this year.

The annual push to find 'the perfect gift' has started even earlier than in years past. Some stores actually put Christmas items on display in August, and a local Albuquerque FM station switched to playing nothing but Christmas music in early November. Not only are we bombarded with 'Black Friday' commercials and ads earlier than ever, but now stores are bleating about 'pre-Black Friday' sales. And of course, opening at 6 a.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving isn't good enough any more. While a few stores opened at midnight last year, this year finds several major retail chains opening on Thanksgiving Day. Talk about corporate greed.

I find this rampant consumerism to be very disheartening. There is nothing in this world that I truly need to buy. I even have a hard time coming up with a short list of things I want, and I put together that list only because my daughter wants to buy something for me for Christmas. So my list includes a bottle of perfume and a couple of music CDs. I enjoy music, so a new CD is always welcome. But truth be told, I get much more pleasure from volunteering at a food bank, or donating food, or buying a wood-burning stove and a couple of food baskets for needy families on the Navajo reservation.

The Thanksgiving holiday is just that -- a day set aside in gratitude for the blessings we have. I live in a beautiful home; my daughter and I are happy and healthy. Our dog, while battling a brain tumor, is doing OK and I can afford the specialized medical care she needs. I have plenty of food in the pantry and freezer. I have money to support me for the rest of my life. I have medical insurance. I am able to travel abroad, and I have hobbies that I enjoy. I have friends both here in New Mexico and in other states, even in other countries. So life, while not perfect, is good.

Friend and mentor Michelle Millis Chappel recently wrote a blog post titled "Why I'm Still Grateful When Life Sucks." Despite life's ups and downs, challenges and losses, we still have things for which to be grateful. Even when there doesn't appear to be a lot for which to be grateful, we need to really think about the things we have. We need to look for the opportunities within the challenges, to recognize that there are many, many people far less blessed than we are. Look for life lessons within the setbacks and disappointments. We need to realize that this is the only life we will get, so we need to make the most of it. And that doesn't mean having all the latest gadgets and toys, the most expensive house or the fanciest car. It does mean recognizing that life, even our mundane, everyday life, is precious. 

So, after you pause to consider your blessings, resolve to make life happen. Do something to bring yourself closer to achieving your dream. Reach out to make a difference in the life of another person or an animal in need. Share your talents with others. Resolve to not give in to the Thanksgrabbing pressure.

Make Thanksgiving a state of mind, not just one day in late November.