With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it’s easy to get caught up in our To Do lists and holiday panic and forget to slow down and give thanks. As I considered what to write about this week, I looked back to past Thanksgiving week blogs. In the past I’ve thanked all those people who have made our United Way a success with their financial support and gifts of their time and expertise. I’ve thanked those people who have made all our lives easier and safer. I’ve thanked my family, co-workers, friends, and neighbors. If I have failed to include you in any of those thank you’ s, please know that I am very grateful for those of you who are reading this today.
But this year is different.
This year my appreciation is so basic. Having worked on homelessness for the past couple of years I realize How much I have to be thankful for that I take for granted every day. I am thankful to wake up every morning, in a soft, warm, clean and bug-free bed, comfortable in my knowledge that my basic needs will be met that day. I am thankful for plumbing and clean water, for hot showers and soap. I consider how lucky I am to have food in a working refrigerator, and the means and knowledge to prepare it in interesting and delicious ways. I am thankful to have a car and a garage that keeps it ice free over Minnesota’s frigid nights. I am thankful for boots and gloves, coats, hats and gloves. I am thankful for a job that pays me a living wage, one that stimulates my mind and heart.
November not only brings Thanksgiving but also Election Day. I am thankful to live in a country that gives me the freedom and the right to voice my opinion through my vote.
Most of what I have listed above I would not have if I were experiencing homelessness. I might have a job, but not a living wage. I might have a car – but it might be serving as my home. I might wake up in a warm bed, but it’s temporary and I probably wouldn’t know where I’d sleep tonight or tomorrow or next week.
There are people experiencing homelessness among us. They are hard to see and to count. There are those who seek shelter at Hope and Harbor, there are families being housed in local hotels, people living in cars and campers and the sheds and living rooms of family or friends. These are not homes. They are temporary solutions.
This year I am thankful to be lucky. For as much as I’d like to think all that I have is due to my own effort, I know that it has a lot more to do with the privilege into which I was born. This year, I am going to find a way to share my luck and show my thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have much to be thankful for.