By GREG DOERING
Kansas Agricultural Bureau
Even as Thanksgiving approaches, it’s easy to have a pessimistic outlook on the current state of the world. If you’re feeding a gathering of 10, a traditional turkey dinner will cost 20 percent more this year, according to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation.
To be fair, wages are rising but at a much slower pace, so while the survey results are real, 20 percent is a bit of an exaggeration. However, that pinch in your wallet is real, and it’s easy to let it ruin Thanksgiving.
Our penchant for self-centeredness is partly to blame. We know exactly which rung of the ladder we occupy, and it’s all too easy to look up, see everyone a rung or two up, and think we’re at the bottom. Our aspirations for tomorrow can easily lead to resentment today if we spend too much time looking up. We avoid looking down, not out of a feeling of superiority, but out of fear.
Fear that our foot is not solid enough to avoid slipping down a step. Angst our only resources are material in nature. Worry that our value is based on ascending. These are universal causes of anxiety and alarm even if they are only true in our minds.
Just as our worth isn’t determined by a bank account, the quality of a meal isn’t determined by its price. While accounting can make things look neat and tidy, it’s a poor approach to limit your life to a spreadsheet or retirement account balance, especially this year.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on how much we take gratitude for granted and how skewed our perspective can become. A day set aside for family and celebration is certainly a reason to be grateful, but it’s worth recognizing that it’s important to acknowledge the obvious and the close rather than waiting for some special, unexpected luck to express appreciation.
Isn’t the simple fact that we’re alive right now worth celebrating? When counting blessings, isn’t that the logical place to start? While not everyone gets the opportunity to give thanks for the laughter of cousins playing while the adults cook or have table conversation after the meal is over, the fact that we are here is remarkable.
The funny thing about acknowledging the incredibly simple aspects of life is that it has a way of changing your perspective. In a week or two, no one will remember if the turkey was dry, if the mashed potatoes were a little lumpy, who brought which pie, or how much it all cost.
This is at least the hope. It’s possible that a curmudgeon or two will find their way to a few dinner tables, bringing with them dour assessments of the world and wanting to talk about unseemly topics like politics. Being thankful for life doesn’t mean being free from challenges.
However, we can choose how to address these challenges. Thanksgiving is a good time to focus on all the big and small things we’re thankful for. It should also serve as a reminder to take stock of our gratitude throughout the year. If you start with the simple fact that you’re grateful to be alive, you can probably keep counting your blessings until your next family holiday.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by the Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest agricultural organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and Kansan lives through advocacy, education and service.