I began this past Thanksgiving Day seeing patients at two local hospitals. Yes, I was working on Thanksgiving, as I have done on many holidays over the past 25 years. Many folks have the luxury of jobs that offer every weekend and holiday off automatically. Many don’t. For example, on Thanksgiving, the hospitals were staffed by nurses, secretaries, security personnel, housekeepers and cafeteria workers. And, of course, every patient was seen by his attending physician and various specialists. If any of us contemplated complaining that we had to work, a quick glance at any of the patients confined to their hospital beds would have quickly set us right.
It’s not only medical care that must be available every day of the year. Law enforcement, firefighters, utility companies, and national security institutions simply can’t clock out on Friday afternoons. If you call 911 on a Sunday, you will not be greeted by a recorded message.
The day is a national opportunity to express thanks for what we have, for what we have been given. I know that many of us have been given what seems to be an unfair measure of misfortune and pain. Life is not fair.
A Depiction of the First Thanksgiving
I have seen so many people over my career who have faced challenges and obstacles that dwarf my own, and yet demonstrate grace and thankfulness for what they have in their lives. How do these ordinary people find extraordinary strength? It’s effortless to be appreciative when you are coasting downhill. Anyone can do this. What really matters, however, is when we can do so when our downhill glide has taken a tortuous path. This is a lesson that I contemplate often, but I haven’t mastered. I am thankful for the people in my life who inspire me to try to be better than I am.