LANSING, Ill. (November 25, 2020) – Amid a challenging year, Lansing Journal writers are using Thanksgiving as an opportunity to reflect on the year and count their blessings. A few writers’ reflections are below:
I am thankful for my six-month-old daughter, Simone. My wife being pregnant and Simone being born during a pandemic, civil unrest, and anything else that 2020 has thrown at us has been interesting. But when you look into the pure, innocent face of a child, it can bring you so much peace. More importantly it can bring you so much hope for the future. There is a sense that we should all learn something from this year and understand that we should not be troubled by trouble. God gave us an amazing blessing in Simone, and my faith continues to grow despite everything happening nationwide.
Also this is a year that if you are able to say you are healthy, you should be thankful for that health. It should remind you never to take that for granted.
This year as I recover from COVID-19 and pneumonia as Thanksgiving approaches, I’m thankful for the smallest of things that I have taken for granted that are slowly and gradually being restored: the strength to lift my head for a drink of water, the ability to walk from the bed to the bathroom without giving it a second thought, the opportunity to breathe in air without a struggle.
I am also very grateful for all those working in the healthcare field caring for those affected by the virus while putting themselves at risk and burning out on the work load. And a big measure of appreciation also to all the teachers who are navigating this strange school year and making the best of the situation for their students while taking care of their own families.
This year, I have so much to be grateful for. Despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic, I can confidently say that I have experienced an abundance of personal growth. I was able to come out of my shell and conquer some of my biggest fears. I am grateful for the amazing support system I have in my family and friends. And of course, I’m grateful for my dogs Duke, Harley, and Trixie!
November is Thanksgiving month and also happens to be my birth month, and I am thankful for the privilege of having recently reached the milestone age of sixty-five. For my COVID-downsized birthday celebration, we catered from one of my favorite local take-out restaurants—The Simple Greek—and we raised glasses of Greek wine and Ouzo. Maybe I should mention here that I am not Greek, though I wish I were. I am proud of my British/Lithuanian heritage, but I am also thankful for Greek food, Greek culture, and Greek contributions to Western Civilization, especially theater. Anyway, as we raised our glasses, a family member proposed I make a toast, and so naturally I quoted a favorite Greek fictional character—Alexis Zorba from Nikos Kazantzakis’ Zorba the Greek. Like Zorba, (played in the movie version by the late and great actor Anthony Quinn), I matter-of-factly affirmed in my toast that, “Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.”
2020 has been a year full of all kinds of troubles that no one actually looked for and to which many hope to say good riddance. We may complain, become divisive, or despair about an uncertain future when we’re in the throes of our troubles, but maybe Zorba has a point. Trouble—seemingly capricious and unfairly dealt in life—is often what makes us come alive. It evokes our passion and compassion, moulds our personal perspectives, gives direction to our goals, and develops our sense of purpose. How we choose to navigate troubles and the extent to which we are awake to life’s pleasures along an otherwise painful journey are what give our lives richness. Our own personal trials and tribulations—which test our mettle, our principles, our faith—ultimately help define who we are and often ironically end up being our most memorable and meaningful life experiences of all.
Like Zorba the Greek, I am thankful for the gift of life, itself, even in spite of—as Zorba might put it—our “most splendiferous catastrophes.”
We can fear life like it’s the enemy or we can embrace it like Zorba, dancing through pain and joy alike, feeling and embracing all of what entails being alive. I am thankful to have experienced all that life has had to offer me so far, not only for its pleasures, but yes, also for its troubles. Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! And Ya Mas! (That’s Greek for “To our health!”)
The Lansing Journal is thankful for all of you—our readers. Happy Thanksgiving!