Today is a day to reflect on the things we have.
I like to look to my late son for the perfect example. Both he and my sister, Ellen, who died six years ago, lived in the spirit of gratitude. They both embraced life, even as it was ebbing away.
“Every day above ground is a good day,” Ellen said often during the last weeks of her life.
Mike just said, “I love my life,” even as it was confined to a single room.
Our tradition here is to go around the Thanksgiving table and talk about the things we have to be thankful for: family, friends, a warm, safe place to call home, enough food, and of course, our Star Trek DVD/Blu-ray collection.
On Mike’s final Thanksgiving, he was thankful for my bread stuffing and chocolate cream pie, and the ability to take a nap after dinner. I was thankful for him; I still am.
I’m thankful for my surviving son and his wife and kids. Even though Danny and I have had our difficulties, he is a most precious gift to me.
I’m thankful for my sister’s son and daughter, who now torment and tease me, as I do them. I adore them both, and their children.
I like to spend this day and this weekend reflecting on these things, and thinking about people who have less than I do as I crochet hats and scarves to donate to them.
I never, ever shop on Black Friday.
I don’t need to shop local on Saturday because I do that all year long, and I ignore Cyber Monday.
Our holiday warmth has been co-opted by huge, greedy corporations, and we are led to believe that buying things we don’t need will make us happy.
My Thanksgiving traditions include watching “King Kong,” listening to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” and being with people I love.
This year, it’s just me and Rob and our friend, Dee, for dinner. We’ll eat, enjoy a glass of wine and maybe even light a fire in the backyard fireplace (or as Dee puts it, “burn stuff in the back yard.”).
Instead of focusing on battling other folks to save a few bucks on things you don’t need, how about focusing on family? Our time here is so short, our lives so fragile and uncertain.
As I listen for the echos of voices now silenced, I am even more grateful for the ones still here. I choose to spend time with them instead of shopping.
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.