That For Which I Am Thankful

I live in a country led by a President with whom I share few values, whose policies I disagree with, whose vision for the future of our country lies 180 degrees from my own, and a legislature comprised of men and women I cannot respect, including some I supported with my vote.

And each and every one of them gained office by winning a majority of the vote in their districts, from people who do support their views. They entered office without bloody coup or threats of bloody reprisal from the supporters of the candidates they defeated. And while I may bemoan the harm I believe they are doing to our country, I and the vast majority of my countrymen will take no action against them, save for legal action at the voting booth in the next election cycle. And if our man wins, the supporters of the defeated candidate will afford us the same courtesy. Because we're Americans, by God, and we still value fairness and the rule of law.

And for that, I am thankful.

Members of our military toil, and bleed, and die in far-flung outposts around the globe, laboring to secure freedom and liberty for foreign citizens who scarcely value their sacrifice. They are far away from their families on this day of thanks, and some of them will never return. They do this because we, as Americans, are willing to fight for liberty not only for our own citizens, but for all human beings. And so we still act as the world's policemen, expending vast amounts of money, time and blood securing those blessings for people outside our own borders, when some of our citizens still suffer right here at home.

And the instruments of that foreign policy, misguided and misused as it sometimes may be by our politicians, are the young men and women who serve in our armed forces. None of them had to be forced to go. Each and every one of them volunteered for the duty, because they choose to believe in a purpose greater than their own self-interest. And they put their lives on the line to serve that purpose.

That our country can still produce such selfless men and women, I am thankful.

Both of my parents, one sister, and all of my aunts and uncles are dead. The Grayson name will die with me. I have spent most of my adult life estranged from my immediate family. The first woman I ever loved, divorced me.

But she is still one of my dearest friends, an important part of my life, and a good mother to my child. Despite all that has passed between us, there is nothing she would not do for me.

And for that, I am thankful.

My girlfriend and I are separated by 1600 miles on this day. We will spend another Thanksgiving and Christmas apart.

But I have a good woman who loves me, not just the man who plays Ambulance Driver on the Internet. She forgives me my weaknesses, and inspires me to be a better person.

And for her, I am thankful.

Today KatyBeth and I will eat a microwaved meal, and I will spend the bulk of the day writing and catching up on looming and missed deadlines, for I haven't the skill or the time to spend a day cooking an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner.

But I have a daughter who would rather spend the day with her father hanging around the house, eating Hamburger Helper, than spend the day feasting on turkey and being doted upon by her grandparents.

And for that, I am thankful.

One of my best friends had to cut our annual hog hunting trip short, to rush home to a sick wife. For most of the trip, he felt helpless, unable to do what he believes a husband should do for his wife, which is be at her side when she needs him.

But we were able to arrange for him an early flight home, and he was at her side the next day, as promised. Family, after all, is more important than any hunting trip. Today, he will be spending Thanksgiving with that family.

And that my friend could find a woman worthy of cutting short a hunting trip with his friends, a woman and two daughters that light up his life, I am thankful.

On our hunting trip, I was the only one that saw a hog. Were it not for the one I killed Saturday morning, we'd have been skunked for a second straight year. I spent four hours Saturday night, lying on my back in a frozen field, waiting for hogs that never came.

But those four hours were spent under a blanket of stars in a sky so perfect as to defy description, next to two friends who rarely get to experience such wonders living in a city. They were both as awed as I was. And tonight, I will partake of pork shoulder from the hog I killed, using the skills my father taught me.

And for those things, I am thankful.

I work in a profession where I see people at their worst, and many of them are people I would avoid contact with on their best days.

And yet, on the worst day of a person's life, I am the man they call and trust to make it better.

And for that honor, I am thankful.

There are many things for which I could be bitter and resentful, things I would change if I could. But those things are simply Life. They are the things we all must endure.

Happiness in life is not an equation. Blessings and trials are not things to be balanced on a ledger.

Happiness is choosing to place more value on the blessings.

And for my blessings, I am thankful.

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