Monday, 12 October 2015

Canadian Thanksgiving Day

It's Canadian Thanksgiving Day today. While it may seem hard to believe, Canadian Thanksgiving Day has very different roots, and an earlier origin, than our US counterpart. The first Canadian Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1578, while the first US Thanksgiving is generally considered to have occurred in the fall of 1621.

As with much of Canadian history, this day is wrapped in that greatest of explorations, the search for the Northwest Passage. In 1578, Martin Frobisher held a Thanksgiving celebration not for harvest but in thanks for surviving the long journey from England through the perils of storms and icebergs. On his third and final voyage to the far north, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Frobisher Bay in Baffin Island. Needless to say, it was cold and there was no turkey to be had.

I have much to be thankful for, this year and for many years. It would be easy to list a trite sampling of things for which I give thanks, things ranging from the silly to the sublime. Yet most of what I have to be thankful for is drawn from my good fortune at being born in this time and place in human history. This is not to say that I could not have been thankful for much in times past. It simply means that most of my thankfulness is wrapped up in material things.

The things for which I am truly thankful, the things which I do not attribute to an accident of time and place of birth, are the most intangible of things, those which cannot be touched or held, captured or purchased. The things for which I truly give thanks are those ephemeral things such as the love of family and friends, the care and compassion shown to me daily, the laughter and happiness that surrounds me regularly.

As to material things, I have been blessed to have been born into one of the wealthiest generations in human history, in one of the wealthiest places on our planet. I have been blessed to have been born in one of the safest and most tolerant liberal democracies on earth, a place and society which is the envy of most of the world. Freedom is a given for my life, as is the opportunity to say what I want, within reason, to vote as I wish, to believe in whatever religion I choose, or none at all should I choose.

As to my illness, I am fortunate to live in a community and country where medicine is a matter of science, not superstition; where health care is considered a right, not a purchased commodity; where our society and government adhere to the principal that a just society cares as much for the least of its citizens as it does for the wealthy and powerful.

Perhaps the best way to express my thankfulness is to say I am thankful that I am here, still breathing, still living, still enjoying life. I am thankful to be.

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