Thanksgiving: So Much to be Thankful For
This was written for the Huffington Post on Canadian Thanksgiving two months ago. Some things have changed since then, (primarily elections) but I thought it worth reprising here.
Every year we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with an extraordinary family that lives all year round on a small lake just outside of Algonquin Park in Ontario. They don't keep a TV or computer while home-schooling the kids, but the house is full of books and music, such incredible music, just listening to them all sing Grace brings me to tears.
After a wonderful dinner of local organic turkey and all of the best fall vegetables Ontario has to offer, our host asked everyone around the table to say what they were thankful for in this past year (health and family not allowed, too easy) . While I listened to everyone else I reflected on the past weeks, the loss of a third of my retirement savings, the harsh racism coming out of the election to the south, concern about a conservative majority in the election to the north, worry for our soldiers in Afghanistan, worry for my job, worry about everybody else's jobs. I wondered what I was going to say when it got around to me.And I realized that I, my family, and all of us still have so much to be thankful for.
I am thankful that it looks probable that the world may soon again look at an American president and government with respect and admiration.
I am thankful that while I don't want a Conservative majority government in my country, I can look upon the prospect with some equanimity, that we have avoided the politics of polarization and that our political parties chase the moderate center instead of the extreme fringe.
I am thankful that so many people now care about having a Thanksgiving dinner of local, fresh and healthy food.
I am thankful that so many people are talking about the opportunity we now have to invest in a greener economy that is not, as Jim Kunstler said years ago, one of building houses and big box stores with stuff to fill the houses.
I am thankful that so many people are embracing repair, reuse, frugality, living with less, moderation, sharing, all those things that we have talked about for years as environmental issues, when the President told us to "go out and shop," that people now see are economic issues and social issues.
I am thankful that I have lived through or read a bit of history, including John Kenneth Galbraith's delightful little Short History of Financial Euphoria to know that these things pass, economies usually recover, and that while I lost a whack of dough in the '87 crash, a year later the market was up 2% over the pre-crash numbers.
And while I have so much admiration for our hosts, who have raised four smart and talented children without the need of computers and the internet, I am thankful for this technology that has let me meet and read and learn from so many brilliant, committed and wonderful people. I am thankful to Graham Hill and those like him who had the vision to see what kind of power this medium has, and that has let me earn a living without building houses and big boxes as I did when I practiced architecture. And most of all, I thank all of you for reading.