Rabbi Marc Gellman, Tribune Media Services
8:50 PM PST, December 2, 2011
Thanks to all my wonderful readers for sending me your lists of what you're thankful for this holiday season.
If we think of thankfulness as just some abstract concept, we lose its transforming power in our lives. If we just express gratitude for generalized things like family and health, I also believe thankfulness lacks its proper punch. We need to make our thanks personal, real and specific, so we can continuously remind ourselves that we've been given more — much more — than we deserve.
Here's a sampling of your lists:
I agree with everything you wrote in your Thanksgiving column, but I'd like to add my own thanks. First of all, I'm thankful for you and the insight you bring into my life. (Note from MG: OK, I know it's self-serving to include this comment, but I'm touched by your kind words about the column.)
I'm also thankful for the fact that 52 years ago, a 10-week-old baby boy was placed in my arms to take home and raise as our own. He was a beautiful baby, a fine boy, an obnoxious teenager and a very handsome man.
Now, in our old age, we're thankful that he now has two delightful daughters going through the teenage years. He wonders how we got through this time, and my answer is to just love your children and guide them as best as you can.
They'll turn out to be as wonderful as you. — F., via email@example.com
I'm thankful for the truly kind and generous people we have among us. I'm thankful to the neighbor who's willing to help you get your ailing husband into the house upon his return from the rehab center. I'm thankful for my nephew, who says he's only a phone call away any time he's needed.
I'm thankful for the stranger I just met when I went to her house to buy a piece of medical equipment. She refused to take any money, carried the equipment to my car, and offered to come to my house if I needed her help. These wonderful, unselfish, compassionate people make the adversity in our lives easier to bear. — M., Bellmore, N.Y., via firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm thankful for the U.S. Postal Service letter carriers.
When these hard-working people are thought of at all, it's usually as the butt of a joke. Letter carriers should be thanked often by anyone with a mailbox. When it's snowing and 30 degrees or humid and 90 degrees, everyone should peek out the window of their cozy home or office and remember the person who delivers their mail every day.
A letter carrier drives with the window open — so cold in the winter and hot in the summer--or walks for six or seven hours. The walking routes are approximately 10 miles long, traveled with 40 pounds of mail on your shoulder!
I know this because I tried doing this job many years ago. Fresh out of college with few career prospects, I thought it would be fun to be a letter carrier. Eighteen months later, I resigned because it was so physically demanding and those I served rarely gave me a compliment or showed any form of appreciation.
Even now, every rainy, snowy, or hot and humid day, I silently send a "God bless" to all the letter carriers. — M., Smithtown, N.Y., via email@example.com
I'm thankful for deposit cans and bottles, stress tests, and (hopefully) the positive power of Facebook.
Part of my 75-year-old dad's daily routine is to drive to local parks and collect cans and bottles. He uses the money he gets for them to buy food, which he donates to his church's food bank. Several of his close friends drop off cans and bottles to support his effort.
In mid-October, Dad went in for his yearly stress test. The results were a little different this time around, and Dad's doctor sent him for an angiogram. Since Dad was so active and showed no symptoms of heart trouble, we expected the angiogram to show little or nothing. Instead, it turned out he needed a triple bypass.
Of all the crazy thoughts that ran through my head, I wondered, "Who's going to buy food for the food bank?"
I asked all my Facebook friends to donate some extra food until Dad could resume his rounds. If even if one person did so, I'm happy.
Thankfully, Dad came through the surgery well and has been cleared to drive again. So in addition to the first three things I'm thankful for, this year I was most thankful for being able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my hero. — T., Massapequa Park, N.Y., via firstname.lastname@example.org
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