First published in The Batesville Daily Guard November 23rd, 2016
I have always said that Thanksgiving is a time for the three Fs: Food, football and family. The smells of turkey, fixin’s, and desserts permeate the house, creating a low rumble in the belly that can only be satiated by gluttonous consumption. The sounds of football blare from the family room, punctuated by alternating yells and groans that eventually taper off into a tryptophanic coma. Family crowds into the house to share in the festivities until a fight inevitably breaks out (well, that’s how I remember it anyway).
Most Thanksgiving dinners I’ve attended usually included some method of expressing the blessings in life before the food is attacked. This is appropriate, considering food and family are enough to be thankful for alone. There are many expressions of gratitude for health, loved ones, maybe even wealth and prestige. I have noticed, though, that there tends to be a focus on what has happened or what is happening when giving thanks. What about the future, though?
Yes, I am thankful for my family, my friends, my home, food, health and so forth, but I’m also thankful for opportunities to grow, learn, achieve and succeed going forward as well. I wondered if it was just me, so I decided to ask the question on social media to see if anyone else had an eye on what’s ahead. I didn’t expect to get many answers, but I was surprised. Here are a few:
Several responded with dreams for their children. One profound example was, “That my kids grow up to be responsible, contributing, ethical, compassionate, and firm in their beliefs.” Another said, “To have happy children who love Jesus and others.” One more from the parents: “To be a size 8 and raise a great son.” Our children truly are the future of this world, so it is very appropriate for parents to tune their dreams to the possibilities they have in front of them.
Several expressed a desire to travel the world, while a couple of others mentioned their dream of finding love someday. There was also a desire to become a philanthropist from someone that I personally know to be a ridiculously hard worker. One even said, “For the Razorbacks to be #1 in the nation in football.” Well, I did ask for dreams, right? Another put it simply: “I dream of tacos frequently.”
Did you know that it is OK to dream? To reach for the stars even when you know you’re going to get bruised along the way? Many are afraid to do that because they view it as a waste of time. Some get discouraged with their present circumstances and are too afraid to consider the future. Others have chased big dreams that have gone up in flames and simply refuse to allow for the possibility of failure again.
Ah, that word. “Failure.” I have a different take on that concept because I have chased many things that didn’t come to pass. I’ve fished without catching anything. I have chased love and come away empty handed. I’ve even caught love and lost it. I went deer hunting with a buddy once, and we sat in a tree stand from 4 a.m. until we couldn’t stand being frozen solid anymore, and all we saw for our troubles was a couple of stray dogs sniffing through a pile of garbage. Were these things failures? To me, the answer is no.
I believe that no matter what you try, you either win or you learn. Key word: TRY. Every task I’ve ever tried to accomplish, every dream I have ever chased, every relationship I have ever been in have all been valuable learning experiences for me. Yes, some of these experiences have been extremely painful to live through, but I am — dare I say it? — thankful for every single one. None of them have discouraged me from chasing future opportunities. They have taught me how to chase them.
As most of us gather together tomorrow to enjoy food, football and family, please still give thanks for all that you have. Enjoy the company while trying not to gorge yourselves into oblivion (I make no promises on that one). Give thanks, because that is what this holiday is for. Just remember, though, to be thankful for the future.