Giving thanks

By Phil Plait | November 27, 2008 9:00 am

Today in the United States is the holiday of Thanksgiving, one of our more deeply tradition-laden days. I suspect most people in other countries know this as the time we eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie (though not me, I prefer chocolate pie). And then there’s the shopping the next day, of course.

But there is also the tradition after which the holiday itself is named: giving thanks. People do it in different ways, of course. At a family dinner many years ago, my then-young niece suggested that we go around the dinner table and everyone could say what they were thankful for. It was a sweet idea, and we’ve done it many times since, when we’re all gathered.

But there’s something about it that bugs me, and again it’s the word itself. To give thanks, there has to be something to receive it. For some it’s God, which is their personal choice. For others it may just be fate, or happenstance. That bugs me. I have an appreciation for math and some basic statistics; I know that, ironically, rare things happen all the time because there are so many seconds in a day, and so many of us humans walking the Earth. Tell me that I am a one-in-a-million guy, for example, and I know reflexively there are 5999 more of me out there somewhere.

Egads.

So sometimes things just happen. But I also know that the world is what we make of it. We make decision, consciously and unconsciously, every second of every day, day in and day out, for all our lives. The big decisions stick with us, and maybe smaller ones that went the wrong way. But they’re our decisions.

So I’m not the kind of guy, you might not be surprised to learn, to give thanks to some entity or entities named or otherwise. To me, it’s not a matter of giving thanks. It’s a matter of assessing what you have, what you want, and being glad or sad about the way things did or didn’t go.

Should I thank the random nature of the Universe that a young woman in 1992 decided to take astronomy in summer school, setting up the circumstance that I would see her every day in the Astronomy Department at UVa? And should I thank Fate that she was someone I had already met through being in the band together, but we never hit it off… only to stop and talk with her before class that hot, humid summer? And whom do I thank for me finally getting the guts to invite her to the Fourth of July picnic at my friend’s house, a date that had been ongoing for 16 years now?

Or should I just be glad things worked out that way, and I was able to take advantage of the opportunities that arose?

Should I be thankful that the one particular sperm swam some small percentage faster than the others, producing a zygote that would eventually be the daughter I see today, possessed of a lovely singing voice, an aptitude for music, drawing, writing, and science? I’m just glad it worked out that way, and that my wife and I did the best we could — and still do — to raise our daughter. Knowing all this is started out somewhat randomly doesn’t lessen the fierce feelings I have for my daughter now, and the pride I feel every day when I see her.

I decided in the late 90s to write a book. I wrote magazine articles first, then started giving talks, then got an agent, then the book contract. We needed blurbs for the cover, so I sent a copy to my hero, James Randi, whom I had never met. He wrote an enthusiastic endorsement, and then invited me to speak at the first of an annual conference he was planning.

Now I’m the president of his educational foundation. I am paradoxically humbled and proud to be in this position. Whom do I thank for that?

Oh, wait! I have an answer for that: Randi. And my agent, and my friend who introduced me to my agent, and and and. I’m glad they were able to help me, and I’m glad I took the initiative to jump on those opportunities when they arose.

And so in this case, the thanks really do have someone to receive them. I bet that’s true in a lot of cases.

I thank my family for their support, and my friends over the course of my life for shaping that life. I’m glad for the opportunities, but I’m thankful to the people.

The world is what we make it. It’s the people who make the difference. I am who I am today — we’re all who we are today — because of people, both good and bad, influencing us, both in good ways and bad.

And it’s what we’ve done with that experience. Events happen, but it’s up to us to do with them what we can. Be glad for that, be thankful.

The world is what we make of it. Make it a good one.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind
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Comments (75)

  1. I agree whole heartedly, Phil.
    Everybody have a great Thanksgiving!

  2. Phil, the tuba guy

    Wait, you were in Band? What did you play?

    Have a great Turkey Day, Phil. Keep up the outstanding work.

  3. pumpkin pie (though not me, I prefer chocolate pie)

    I feel betrayed. To think I used to respect your opinion.

  4. Prrt

    And I would like to thank Phil Plait, whom I have never met, for refueling the interest in astronomy that I had when I was young. And for reminding me that there are many persons in my life whom I should thank for their actions. And to inspire me to do actions that others will be thankful for.

  5. Well said, as usual Phil! And I’ll take both pumpkin and chocolate!

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  6. Me

    Thanks Phil, for a nice post that explains your point of view without belittling the views of others. I notice on Pharyngula PZ Myers used his Thanksgiving post as a cheap excuse for yet another bashing of people who happen to have religious faith. It’s nice to see that while you are a skeptic’s skeptic, you resisted the temptation to take a sleazy cheap shot like PZ did.

  7. Don Snow

    Great article, Phil. I’ve already thanked you, but not for your blog. Thanks for your blog, Prof. Plait.

    May Phil and all of his, and all of you and all of yours have a blessed and joyful day, today.

  8. Dark Jaguar

    It’s only because it’s such a big part of society.

    Here’s a better analogy, people striving for civil rights talking about how dumb racism is all the time. When racism was far more prevalent, they did, and they kinda had to because it was everywhere. Any talk about striving to do this or that with one’s life had to be prefaced with an explanation of why it’s stupid that only whites were expected to be able to.

    As for thanksgiving, I don’t thank a diety, and I don’t thank “fate” (I consider “fate” a pretty evil concept in itself actually, the sort of thing where people justify so much bad stuff away by saying “it was meant to be”, well whoever meant a plane crash or a heart attack to be is completely evil). I also don’t bring up lists of things in general I like about my life. However, I do take the time to thank the specific people around me for specific things I appreciate them doing for me. I turn thanksgiving into something pretty literal, and it’s caught on pretty well when my family gets together. What better thing to thank than real people right around you?

  9. Dallas

    This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for the laws of physics that have culminated in the stable proton, the ability of stars to fuse elements into new elements, the chemical evolution on the early Earth, and the biological process that finally led to us and our large brains capable of reason and logic, so we can subsequently evolve from faulty ideas to find better solutions and search for the truth.

    If only we could hear that at the dinner table more often. We’d probably live in a much better place.

  10. I get your point, and I largely agree. However, I thought thanksgiving was to commemorate the generosity of the natives when some of the early pilgrims were about to starve. I also believe that those pilgrims already gave their “thanks” to those natives in their own special way. If there’s something about the holiday that would bug me, it is this.

  11. Check out the latest XKCD. Hilarity+Astronomy.

    HAPPY TURKEY DAY ALL!

  12. Andy Beaton

    I’m willing to thank Randi for everything good, basically on the grounds that he probably hasn’t been thanked for *everything* he’s done, and this will balance it all out.

  13. I’m thankful for the opportunities I have, from whatever, whomever and wherever they may come. Thanks, Phil for being one of those opportunity generators!

  14. I’m thankful in many of the same ways. Thanks for the skepticism and science.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  15. Bob Portnell

    You’re thinkin’ (and thankin’) too hard, Phil. Your rationalist credentials are not threatened by any expressions during a mere holiday. Feel free to give thanks to whom-, what-, or how-ever you care to, and enjoy!

  16. ioresult

    Like Phil the tuba guy, I play music in a band; I’m an oboe guy. What instrument did you play, Phil? And what instruments did Mrs BA play and the Little Astronomer play?

  17. Nigel Depledge

    Erm … well, I’m just a iggerent European when it comes to Thanksgiving, but I thought it was about thanking the native Americans who helped the first colonists survive…?

  18. Chip

    Let’s not forget to thanks the cook(s). 😉

  19. C

    @ Nigel… Thanksgiving is what we make of it here. Like anything else. Yes, we thanked the Native Americans for helping us during our first hard winter—and for not hacking us to pieces and tossing us into the sea, as I’m sure they would have had they known what was to come.

    Still, the holiday has evolved here to where we all are encouraged to give thanks to everything in our lives that is fortunate and good.

    And Phil, I love what you do. Your site is part of my daily routine. But one day, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you have to make an irrational prayer, and believe in something you can’t see. You will have to pray to something that can’t be reproduced in a Hubble photo, or a CERN press release, or a photo from the surface of Mars. Something no NASA scientist or post-doc paper can produce. And that prayer is going to come true. And I just hope you will be gracious enough to write about it when it does.

    Peace.

  20. DrFlimmer

    Why not just say “Thanks”? Why is it so difficult? I can think about enaugh people I can give a “thank”. I can even give one to Phil, because reading (t)his blog is really big entertainment (much much better than most things on TV). Just because there is a relation to god? If you don’t believe in it then **** it.

    “I thank my family for their support, and my friends over the course of my life for shaping that life. I’m glad for the opportunities, but I’m thankful to the people. ”

    That rescued the post!!

    Just:

    Thank you!

  21. Mount

    Wow Phil, great job at turning Thanksgiving into a holiday for robots! Even with every statistic out there I still understand that I am very fortunate, and for that I am thankful.

  22. Mount, I think you have taken my point exactly the wrong way. I am saying that it’s more human to actually assess your situation and be glad for the things you should be. It also makes you a better human to take responsibility for what happens over which you have control, and far far far more human to appreciate the other humans around you.

  23. I get what you’re saying, Phil; but I think you might have overstated it a bit. One of the the things I like about Thanksgiving is the secular nature of it. Also, the idea that you take at least one day out of your year and tally up the things that really matter. Like you, I tend to try to thank people directly for what they’ve given me in my life; but there are some things that I’m just plain grateful for that I’m not sure I could go and “give” thanks to someone for.

    I’m most thankful for my daughter. For all she does. How hard she works, how happy she makes me, and the very fact that she is alive. Okay… maybe that last part would be better expressed as “grateful.” It took a lot of people to make sure that happened. Her mom (and even though we’re estranged, I’m still glad we met and bred), her doctors, the engineers and medical researches to make the tech and meds… I’m grateful that I live in a time when that can all happen.

    As for C: I don’t understand. First, what makes you so certain that Phil (or anyone else for that matter) is *bound* to have that experience after a lifetime of *not* having it? It seems a strange assumption that one would go throughout their life and have nothing bad happen to them for so long, and that someday something bad enough will happen that their only recourse if to find religion.

    And secondly (and more importantly) why would it be anything beyond coincidence that that one “prayer” came true out of the millions of prayers that go unanswered (even those of people of faith)?

  24. Utakata

    As we say in Canada…

    …Thanksgiving is sooooo last month.

    >.>

  25. Pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Mmmmm….! And that’s from a Brit. :) I wonder what pumpkin pie with chocolate on TOP of it would be like though?

    Happy Thanksgiving all my transPondian cousins!

  26. Retrogarde

    Happy TG. This holiday is not religious. It’s a pure saying thanx. Thank you BA. The end of the year comes in. I hope you will be there next year.

  27. Mike Torr: “I wonder what pumpkin pie with chocolate on TOP of it would be like though?”

    You have just revolutionized holiday pies. I’m trying this. *Tonight*

  28. MarkB

    Hi Phil,

    why can’t you just come out and say that you are an atheist? You have such strong convictions about politics and science but you seem to shy away from the obvious.

    MarkB

  29. Fly

    Phil,

    How about a comment on the LHC will not be in operation until 2010? And the CERN cover up about the huge explosion?

  30. James

    Phil, you just need to try MY pumpkin pie, with Cool Whip. You’ll come over to our side. Resitance is futile. You will be assimilated!

  31. OK, Fly, I’ll bite. What CERN explosion coverup?

  32. IVAN3MAN

    @ Andy

    I think what “C” is insinuating is that favourite old chestnut of the faithful: “There are no atheists in foxholes”. :roll:

  33. Summer

    Phil,

    Thanks for this. I’ve been asking the same question to myself all week…. and I must say that you put into words what I was feeling, but couldn’t come up with he right ones. I’ve not been into religion for a couple of years now, I love the holidays, but am working out what to do with them now. This helps me work some of that out, thanks again.

  34. IVAN3MAN

    Phil, the tuba guy: “Wait, you were in Band? What did you play?”

    Well, Phil Plait’s an astronomer, so, like Orpheus in Greek mythology, he played the Lyra, no?

  35. MH

    Typically we give thanks to someone else at the table. It personalizes things and makes them much more meaningful.

  36. Your words are inspiring, I will do try to make “my world” a better place

  37. Peter Harding

    Very touching article. Though I am Canadian and I’m a about two months late I would just like to say I am thankful for the Universe. For without it there would be no Sun and without the Sun there would be no Earth and without the Erath there would be no life and without life I would have no friends no family no astronomy books to read when I have nothing else to do. There would be nothing without the Universe. So we ALL owe our thanks to the Universe though it may seem scary sometimes it is our only home. I also give thanks to Phil for getting me interested in such a beautiful subject.

    So high-fives to all you astronomy lovers and to all those astrologers there is a reason for school.

    P.S. my comma isn’t working so sorry about the terrible puncuation.

  38. nicefinger

    Is there any US Holiday that does not involve shopping?

  39. daniel

    Reel him in fly.

    Phil, i took you book on a flight with me today, got some strange looks. “Death from the skys” probably though it was some kind of plane crash story.

  40. Huh. This whole post really confused me at first, since I never thought I was giving thanks to a deity or the universe or whatever. When I say (like in a blog post yesterday) I’m thankful for, say, Robocop on a unicorn, I’m saying thanks to the guy who created RoaU. So, I guess I never really worried about the idea of giving thanks, and I think the idea of giving thanks to anyone or anything is just a nice idea, in general.

  41. quasidog

    We don’t really have a holiday in Australia where we all sit around and ‘give thanks’ for things. I was brought up in a family, and religion (of which I am not a solid member) where we were just taught to be thankful for good things that come to us, at the time. In other words, if someone does you a good deed, be thankful there and then. When we become aware of a situation in another country or culture where people are suffering, we are thankful to live in such a good place. I am not sure if being thankful about things has to actually be directed at ‘anyone’, sometimes it is just good to note how fortunate you are compared to people not so well off sometimes. However I am not so arrogant to ignore the possibility of God being part of something bigger that I don’t understand, so I do find myself from time to time (especially when I am confused) giving a small prayer of thanks to God. I have struggled for many years with the concept, but the fact remains, I don’t really know, so I will err on the side of caution and thank whoever may be out there for my life in general. What have I got to lose ?

    My religious upbringing always promoted the idea that we make our own decisions and sometimes ‘time and unforseen circumstance’ will destroy some of our best intentions. I notice Phil that anything outside of Atheistic belief bugs you. I might be wrong there, but I have read alot of your viewpoints and it seems to be the case. I get your point of view. I have similar things that bug me also. The idea that there is no chance God exists at all, really bugs me. The arrogance displayed by so called Christians bugs me. Atheism bugs me. The arrogance displayed by many (but not all) Athiests bugs me.

    I just don’t know the answers to the big questions, but in the past, just being thankful to a higher power has helped me to feel calm about things. Everyone has the right to beleive what they want I guess, but I refuse to close my mind to the point where I think I know it all, and there is nothing more. Whether is is a placebo or whether it is real, being thankful to who I believe is God, has helped me. Sometimes when you are alone you need someone and some people who have nothing, need to turn to their God. Some call that irrational, some call it faith.

    Atheism might be rational to many, I get it, (no really I get it) but it also bugs me when I can’t thank anyone beyond what I can see. I thank my family and friends for being there, but for me , and I am sure many others, it is not enough.

    I am thankful that I have the choice to make up my own mind.

  42. Davidlpf

    I guess the turkey dinner has put the Fly to sleep.

  43. Davidlpf

    @quasidog some people give thanks everyday also in North America.

  44. quasidog

    @Davidlpf .. of course I know that. I realise people all over the world do that. I am just pointing out that here in this country we don’t have a special day for it, so it counts where it counts. No offense intended.

  45. Ibeechu

    I thank Penn and Teller for having you on their show. Otherwise, I may not have stayed with this blog. I think I was researching something about the moon hoax, came to your site and recognized your face, then checked the episode to see if it was you, and then started reading the blog daily.

    Also, did I detect a minor Back to the Future 3 reference there at the end?

  46. I don’t give thanks. I sold ’em on ebay.

  47. Davidlpf

    No problem quasidog, thanksgiving is also linked to beginning to european settlement and the fall harvest. Canada’s thanksgiving is october because of the harvest connection while in places in the states due a slightly warmer climate is in November. No offense taking.(There are of course other considerations on the placement of the holidays)

  48. Davidlpf

    @quasidog, I no problem withi people if they want to believe in a higher power or say thanks to hime. I am more of an humanist or agnostic. The only problem I have in saying thanks to god for the food is that it does not take into account the person who grew the food if they put that into the prayer or grace it would be one less bone to pick with religion.

  49. Davidlpf

    oops should of been “I have no problem with people”.

  50. quasidog
  51. IVAN3MAN

    “Dear Lord, thank you for this microwave bounty, even though we don’t deserve it. I mean . . . our kids are uncontrollable hellions. Pardon my French, but they act like savages! Did you see them at the picnic? Of course you did; you’re everywhere, you’re omnivorous, O Lord! Why did you spite me with this family?” — Homer Simpson, saying grace.

  52. Phil:
    It looks like a little music might be in order on the next video! You should dust off the vest too!
    A tie in with the sound waves & light waves/particle duality or sumptin…
    Your secret is otherwise safe here in Charlottesville.
    :-)

  53. Mark Hansen

    @Davidlpf,
    ’twasn’t the turkey dinner that silenced Fly. CERN’s MIB caught up with him.

  54. Nigel Depledge

    Mark Hansen said:

    @Davidlpf,
    ’twasn’t the turkey dinner that silenced Fly. CERN’s MIB caught up with him.

    Heehee! Physics PhD students wearing black – when I was at Uni we called them goths.

  55. James

    Wow – this comes off as pretty grumpy. Here’s something to be thankful for: you have a national holiday in your country to celebrate the opportunity to appreciate other people – one that’s rooted not in some hokey religion but in a secular story. It doesn’t celebrate some military victory, bloody revolution, or the birthday of a ruler. And it’s dedicated to reminding you that sometimes it’s nice to say ‘thanks’ – it’s almost like having a humanist national holiday.

    Are you saying that the true, secular spirit of thanksgiving has been subverted with some pseudo-religious agenda of just being generally ‘grateful’ to a particular deity? That’s sad if it’s the case. If I were you, I’d be trying to start a secularist movement to reclaim thanksgiving… maybe we could arrange some sort of swap and give Christmas back in return?

    I’m British, and we don’t have a day off. But I’ll say thanks to you anyway for writing some interesting stuff. But for goodness sake, cheer up.

  56. Quiet Desperation

    Happy Thanksgiving, Phil! Eat well and rest up. We must begin our secular War On Christmas next week. 😉

    Tell me that I am a one-in-a-million guy, for example, and I know reflexively there are 5999 more of me out there somewhere.

    Well, I’m one in a billion. There were five others of me, but I have already hunted them down and consumed their life energy.

    Ever read a SF short story called “Let’s Be Frank”? I can’t recall the author, but it starts out with a guy, named Frank, looking at his newborn son, suddenly realizes he’s looking up at himself as well. He and his son share the same consciousness. As the generations pass, this (sort of) hive mind expands and grows into millions, and then becomes aware of a female collective. I forget how it ends, though. I think the two eventually encompass all of humanity.

  57. Quiet Desperation

    Ah! Found it! “Let’s Be Frank” by Brian Aldiss.

  58. Nicole

    Well said, and thanks for the inspiring post!

  59. saider72

    You analyze way too much. Can’t you just be happy with your circumstances instead of reducing everything down to an equation?

  60. Wow, Phil. This was perhaps one of the most uninspiring Thanksgiving messages I ever read.

    Hope you had a good one!

  61. There doesn’t have to be a deity involved in the “thanking” process. If one is self-directed and involved in one’s life actions in a meaningful and honest way, 0ne can simply be thankful, period. There’s no luck involved, no deities need to be bothered or awakened or supplicated. All you need for a good feeling of thanksgiving is a simple feeling of gratitude for the positive things one has achieved in life. Heck, you can be grateful to yourself for handling your life as well as you have!

    Love the story about meeting your wife. I’ve often thought about the twists and turns of life that first bring us into contact with the people we know and love. For me, I often think, “what if my parents hadn’t told me about that dance that the church group was having for teenagers?”

    :)

    Anyway, we spent yesterday being thankful for the many things we’ve done in our lives and our ability to do what we do. It felt completely natural to thank each other! 😉

    Aside to Nigel — back when I was on campus, we called all-black-clad students “art majors.”

    (Our other favorite term was “tragic freshmen.”)

  62. Gary Ansorge

    Tanks,,,for the memories,,,

    I’d just like to say thanks for George W. Bush,,,if it hadn’t been for his eight years of incompetence, we would likely never have aggravated enough white people to enable the election of an intelligent, compassionate multi-ethnic man to the White House.

    Now we’re really rolling into the third millennium and it’s largely because of George,,,

    Thanks George!

    Gary 7

  63. Levi

    Thanks Phil, for reminding me that life is full of opportunities that need to be seized.

    Today, I’m not going to waste all my free time playing video games. I’m going to go seize an opportunity I should have seized a long time ago.

  64. David D.

    Of all the things I am thankful for on this most American of holidays, nothing surpasses the pride and gratitude I feel to live in a country where I may sit in this chair and write about whatever I damn well please, without fear of retribution or intimidation. It’s an amazing right.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  65. Fly

    There are new details on “incident S-34” emerging. Insider’s estimates are for a 2010 repair (officially it’s 2009 but insider’s say 2010). 6 to 15 tonnes of liquid helium released into the tunnel. 20 steering magnets knocked off of their supports. A whole dipole interconnect destroyed. The hypothesis (stressed in the report) to the cause was a bad weld but the there is nothing left to prove it.

    Google “News from the LHC” click on the 2nd link at the CERN website.

    Go to part II “Part II S34 Incident or …what you can do with 200 MJ”

    Amongst quotes:
    “Considerable collateral damage over few hundred metres”

  66. RAM

    I agree with whoever said this was your most uninspiring post yet

    Maybe I’m too metaphysically/spiritually inclined for you, but, I figure any thanks sent out from an emotional/mental agreement will somehow reach the appropriate recipient.

    & even if it doesn’t it is good for the self just to send it out.

    although I think your a bit too much of a hardcase, I do agree with most of what you say, most of the time.

    Peace & thanks

  67. DrFlimmer

    I want to apologize for my previous post yesterday. Your post just annoyed me a bit, Phil, and in that mood I wrote my answer which went quite too far. So for that I am sorry!

    But I still think that considering life just as a “statistical error of quantum fluctuations” ( 😉 ) takes all of it what makes it good and adorable. Even if this is not entirely wrong in a scientific meaning, life is more than that – at least for me.
    Sometimes strange things happen. Something you did in the past (even not important to you) can come out in a nerver expected way in the future. Even the smallest choices we make influences the whole universe (which is literally correct) just like the butterfly effect. I don’t think “statistical fluctuations of quantum space” are always the answer (but that’s just me!!).

    So, once more: Being thankful is nothing bad. I think being thankful is really something good – and probably there is something wrong with you if you cannot be thankful from time to time.

    “I thank my family for their support, and my friends over the course of my life for shaping that life. I’m glad for the opportunities, but I’m thankful to the people. ”

    That’s right! Thank you!

  68. Mick

    Well, me, I don’t mind that we don’t have thanksgiving in my homecountry. Not so much because I couldn’t think of stuff I’m happy with, but more because I’m just not the type to wax over it.

    And what about deeply unhappy people? Sounds pretty sadistic to put depressed people to a ritual of telling everyone how happy they are.

    Nope, I could do without Thanksgiving. And indeed we don’t have it around here, so suits me fine!

  69. Bill

    Phil —

    You have indeed a valid point — “giving thanks” implies thanking someone. But it doesn’t have to be a deity. You got close when you thanked Randi for giving you the opportunity to be president of the foundation.

    Here’s my suggestion: give thanks to all that have enabled you (and not just You, Phil, but everyone) to be where you are today. I thank my wife for sticking by me all these years, thank my parents for giving me the upbringing they did, my teachers (well, all but one or two) for giving me the education that enabled me to be what I am, etc. No deity was involved in getting my life to where it was, but I AM thankful for all those that WERE involved in it.

    And I also give thanks to Phil Plait for being who he is, a voice of reason in a very unreasonable world!

  70. Davidlpf

    @fly CERN did not cover it up, second why can you not provide the link yourself. (If you do not want in moderation limbo just put in website anderneath where you put your email and it will appear in your name.)

  71. Kaleberg

    Giving thanks does not require a target, merely a thought and its expression, internal or external. If you express anger or joy, you don’t have to express it to anyone or anything. In fact, you don’t even have to be thankful for any particular thing. It is possible to experience and express an emotion completely in its own context. Since Thanksgiving is usually a communal event, one often expresses thanks aloud, and often with a particular focus. As the old joke goes at our non-vegetarian household, everyone has something to be thankful for, except the turkey.

  72. Mark Hansen

    @fly, I tried using your directions but was unable to get the pages you mentioned. As Davidlpf suggested, put the link in the box marked “Website” when posting.

    As David also mentioned, this wasn’t covered up by CERN and it’s old news. BA covered it somewhere on this blog.

  73. kitty

    We do the same tradition at our table. This year, was typical. The focus is on others. I said I was thankful for my husband who is always supportive, and I really appreciated how really wonderful he was. The other couples at the table all pretty much said the same thing (well NOT that they were thankful for MY husband, but thankful for their spouse, and made a few comments about the good qualities of the spouse and or boyfriend/girlfriend).

    In a way I feel we rarely take the time to express how much we appreciate the people around us in our life. Sure we made a good choice when we got married, or we lucked out with family (you can’t choose your parents). There is the old saying that Sherlock Holmes once used in a story, “There but for the grace of God go I”. I think in all of us there is a sense “boy I’m lucky!” And in a sense saying “hey I’m grateful I’ve got a job in this economy!” is a way of taking time to appreciate your life instead of the seemingly year long focus on what you DON’T have. A simple dinner reflection on what IS good in your life is such a break from the whining we hear (and sometimes indulge in) all year.

  74. Charlie in Dayton

    …wait…

    …the BA was a BAND GEEK?????

    …there may be gods after all…

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