Practicing Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving!  This is the time when most Americans are thinking about food and football.  We had that at my house too, but my mom had a special Thanksgiving tradition.  We went around the table and said what we were thankful that year.  Sometimes we were cynical, sometimes genuine, rarely sappy or cheesy (our family doesn’t do sappy and cheesy).  Mom was always thankful for the same thing every year.  She was thankful that she came to the US and was able to give her children the freedom to make choices about their lives in a land of opportunity.  (My living in Israel seems like a rejection of the American dream, but it actually isn’t.  I made a choice and I used my opportunities to live my life to the fullest.  I am and always will be a proud American, but I chose to live in Israel.)

I want to be grateful today but I have to say it’s been a crappy week and frankly a crappy year.

This week the office where I work was broken into.  The windows in my office and another office were smashed.  The thief – well, intruder, it seems he didn’t take anything – tore up the other office and thankfully left my office mostly untouched.  He rifled through my drawers and why he pulled out my Kleenex box, I’ll never know.  Still, it’s a basic violation of space and it felt awful.  What I’m grateful for, though, is that that he didn’t steal anything and he’s been arrested.


Israel is on fire – literally and figuratively.  It seems that some of the fires around the country have been arson and others are just due to the dry conditions we’re suffering right now.  Of course now it’s political.  The arson is not classified as criminal, it’s being called terrorism.  The hashtag #Israelisburning is trending in some Arab countries.  And at the same time, there are Israeli Arabs and Muslim organizations are pitching in to help out.  Fire trucks from the Palestinian authority have been dispatched to help contain the fires.  There is nothing to be grateful for when disaster strikes and when disaster becomes a political debate, but it does give people the opportunity to be generous and helpful to their fellow humans.


Source:  StandWithUs Facebook page

It is extremely dry in Israel right now.  I happen to have an electric superpower at the moment.  If I touch metal, people, my cats, or water, I get zapped.  I’m not really grateful for this, but it does give me an opportunity to remind myself that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

This year we lost many of our cultural icons.  And I lost my dad.  I’m certainly not grateful for these losses, but I am grateful for the influence they had on my life.  I’m also grateful that my dad went out pretty much on his own terms.  That’s all anyone can wish for.  I’m also grateful for the fact that death reminds us to live our lives to the fullest.  If today was your last day, would you be doing what you are doing right now?  It’s good to be reminded of that.

I think gratitude is a choice that we make.  We can be bitter, blame everyone and everything, complain until we are blue in the face, but that is just a huge waste of precious life.  Sure, it’s been a really crappy week and a generally crappy year, but I still have a lot of blessings in my life and I’m generally happy with my choices.  If today was my last day, I’d still probably be doing what I’m doing right now.  And for that I am truly grateful.