Every Monday at the high school during our homeroom period, we have a time called “Monday Matters.” During this time, teachers discuss topics that students may need to know, such as: good sportsmanship, maintaining a positive school culture, the importance of having good attendance, and why voting matters. This past Monday, the topic was gratitude. It was a time for the high school community to reflect on the true meaning of Thanksgiving and to consider life’s blessings.
Life moves way too fast and, as much as a technology geek as I am, I have to admit that it occasionally exacerbates this problem. Society stares mindlessly at its smart devices while life, and all it has to offer, passes them by. One of this country’s greatest philosophers, Henry David Thoreau, once paradoxically noted that “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” As I’ve aged and matured, I have started seeing things with greater appreciation.
For example, I Iook at the blessings that surround my dog, Trinity. As I wrote about in a recent post, she was diagnosed with bone cancer in her right hind leg and she has now undergone surgery to remove that leg to keep the cancer from spreading. The support that I have received from family and friends helped make this operation a reality, and she is on the road to recovery. I watch her learn to how get around on three legs and she’s overcoming that obstacle better than I could have imagined, though there’s still a learning curve ahead of her.
Thanksgiving break could not have come at a better time for me. I feel like I have a million things to do during the nine days that I, thankfully, get off from school. Spending time with family is, of course, at the top of that list, along with eating some delicious food offerings that I generally only get to eat during this time of year. I also plan on providing feedback on student papers (still trying to get myself caught up from starting the nine weeks behind the eight ball), finishing a couple of professional development books that I’ve been reading, having a yard sale, and going to some Vandy football and basketball games. I’ve been going to Vanderbilt men’s basketball games for twenty-eight years, and I am excited about the upcoming college basketball season, as well as their upcoming home football game against Tennessee.
This seems like plenty to do during my break, but I also intend to set aside a few minutes each day to appreciate life and to continue working on being more gracious. Noticing the small things helps keep me grounded and feel like my life is fulfilled. In general, we need more of that feeling of fulfillment across the country. We just experienced a divisive election process where we, once again, have forgotten that “the other side” consists of real people with real emotions. Blanket statements that describe large groups people are almost always false and hurtful. I can’t help but think that if we became more focused on our own contentment, then people would not feel the need to attack and belittle others.
Thanksgiving provides an excellent opportunity for us to come together and have fellowship as families and, more broadly, as a community. It gives us time to heal from a barrage of hate-filled remarks that has destroyed friendships. It allows us the chance to, quite simply, improve ourselves. I hope that we take advantage of these opportunities, and more, that lie in front of us, and stop, if only for a brief moment, to absorb the beauty of the morning sunrise