Pausing to Truly Be Thankful

Thanksgiving is a funny holiday. I think the meaning is largely lost. I admit it's a bit beyond me, which is a sad reflection on me, or society as a whole....

Then again, all our holidays seem that way... I think of two things now - fall weekends with my grandparents as a young kid raking up their leaves, and something about Thanksgiving Sales at Macy's in the US. After a little wiki-reading, the meaning of the season is fresh in my mind. Although it was once a quasi-religious celebration, it's now pretty much secular. People were thankful for their harvest or a safe homecoming. I have a lengthy list of things I'm thankful for. As difficult as life can feel working towards an elite performance at the Games, I know I am blessed to have the opportunity.

As far as that list goes - the top item is that I live in the greatest country in the world. I'm biased, indeed. But, at the same time I have a bit of perspective. I've seen the Favelas in Brazil, had a gun pulled on me in the Dominican, and witnessed the true poverty of families living at a dump in Mexico. Prostitution, bribery and violence doesn't make the new elsewhere because it is common. In Canada, we have everything. We can vote (ok, no great options, but at least a selection); we can write what we think (even if it's stupid or wrong); we can speak what we value (even it challenges our traditional structures); we have food and water galore (maybe too much food, especially this weekend!); nearly every dream one conjures, we have the means to reach it. I suppose we are reminded of this a lot, but to an extent comprehending its meaning slips away in the course of us blindly enjoying our freedom. I think I'm sensitive to this today more than other Thanksgivings because of the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded a couple days ago to Liu Xiabobo, who is locked up in China for disturbing the peace or inciting civil unrest, or some other vague crime. Xiabobo challenged his government in a way that is normal practice and without consequence here. Yet he got a 19 year sentence. We are so lucky here. Canada is amazing. We have it all. So many Canadians don't appreciate this. I guess if one assumes the rest of world is the same as here, it is hard to grasp that our lifestyle is blessed. We are 34 million people in a world of over 6 billion. The odds that you, and me, would end up here are barren. We won the lottery the day we were born. I am thankful to be Canadian.