We’re told these are the worst of times. Homes are being repossessed every day; we live in dread of what might happen next. Will we have a job next year or even next week? Will we lose all of our retirement savings? Will consumer confidence ever lift its head again and roar us into spending a little money to help stir the economy?
Is it a recession or a full-blown depression? It’s been said that a recession is when other people are losing their jobs, homes and savings, and a depression is when it’s happening to you. Regardless of what we call it, tomorrow will be Thanksgiving, and most all of us still have much for which to be thankful.
By the time my paternal grandmother and my mom were my age, they both were using wheelchairs because their independent mobility had been seriously compromised by rheumatoid arthritis. Every day I can get up out of bed and get to the bathroom on my own is a great day, and I am profoundly grateful. There are so many others who have it much worse.
We’ve always had it good compared to previous generations who lived through the Great Depression and two world wars.
Look at the advances in medicine alone compared to that of our grandparents — not to mention our technology and modern conveniences, like running water and climate-controlled homes and places of employment.
If there’s food on your table and friends and family with which to share, you have much for which to be thankful.
In the Midwest, we are well-versed in something called “making do.” Who but strong-spirited Midwesterners consider it a personal challenge to make it unscathed through bone-chilling winds and blinding snow in the winter and record-breaking high temperatures with no rain for months on end during the summer?
The Big Guy and I share the philosophy to live within or below our means instead of overextending ourselves. A big new house is tempting sometimes, but big house payments are not. We’re happy with our small, 100-year-old house — plaster cracks and all.
Talk to anyone who has lived through a major storm, like a tornado or hurricane, and you’ll hear almost everyone say that the money, success and possessions they lost are nearly nothing compared to their loss of family, friends and the routine of their lives before the storm.
Sometimes it’s beneficial to look at the bad times as an opportunity to get stronger. We can learn to be less extravagant and to make the most of the things that matter more.
Yes, I know it’s easier to appreciate diversity when you’re not facing bankruptcy or financial ruin, but everything is temporary and even bad times pass. It is only by experiencing bad times that we can fully learn to appreciate the good times.
In our times of distress, let us appreciate what we have, give thanks for our blessings, and learn to look up.
Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.
Linda Brown is marketing director for The Ottawa Herald. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org