Today is a very important holiday in the United States. It is Thanksgiving, the day where we get together with loved ones, eat a big meal, and express our gratitude for the blessings in our lives.
I have to admit, it is difficult for me to be so far away from friends and family today. I did not realize that it would be. I thought that since it is just another day in Ukraine, it would be another day for me. But I am thinking of how I celebrated this day in the past, with friends and family, and realize how much I miss them.
Yet, I still have so much for which I am thankful. I am thankful for:
- My health. There are so many people in the world who have chronic sickness, or disabilities. Although I get sick more often in Ukraine than I do in the United States, I am overall a very healthy person.
- My family. Through good and bad, my family has always been there for me, and supported me. I miss them very much and am so glad they are in my life.
- My friends. Old and new, those I have kept from the past, found again, or met anew. I have met some really amazing people in my life, and am grateful to have learned from them, shared with them, and spent time with them.
- Peace Corps and Ukraine. Peace Corps has given me the opportunity to do something I have wanted to do for a long time and Ukraine has both welcomed me and provided me a place to do it. Although sometimes it is difficult, or frustrating, overall people here have been very kind and welcoming. I look forward to continuing to work here and hopefully accomplishing some great things.
- The world in which we live. Or should I say the Earth on which we live. The Earth has provided us with such amazing, life-giving resources. We should really be kinder in our relationship with her!
- The many other blessings I am not listing!
In Judaism, there are an amazing number of blessings. There are blessings to say when you awake, to thank G-d for giving you another day of life. There are blessings to say when you hear bad news; blessings when you hear good news; blessings for when you see an exceptionally beautiful person, tree, or field; blessings for when you see a rainbow; blessings for when you hear thunder; and many others.
I cannot claim that I say these blessings. Perhaps I should more often, because sometimes we forget just how blessed we are, especially those of us who were raised in the United States. We are blessed with a strong democracy, good economy (overall, relative to the rest of the world), good education system, good health care system. Although there are potential negatives associated with all of the blessings I just mentioned, let us take a moment to remember that there are so many other countries that are not nearly as fortunate as we are, where people do not have the opportunities that we do.
Though it is easy, as Americans, to look at the difficulty of the past few years, perhaps we should all keep in mind how blessed we are to have the luxury to complain. In most of the rest of the world, people are grateful to be able to eat on any given day, or grateful for the rain that comes to help their crops. They wish they were able to speak their minds freely, to access quality education, to complain. They are more focused on surviving than complaining.
Perhaps we should take their example and be grateful more often for all of the blessings we have.