Thursday, 28 November 2013

Reasons For Thanksgiving

Now, I have to begin by saying that I am not American, although I do have relatives who moved across the Atlantic as a result of the potato famine. I have been to the USA, and really liked the place. It comes across as a nation which lives big - I don't mean the meals! And when the police call you "sir" it takes a while to realise they're not being sarky.

And there is one American tradition I have started to observe - and that is Thanksgiving, with the turkey (OK, a pack of turkey breasts) sitting in the fridge waiting to be cooked this afternoon.

And what do I have to be thankful for? I know that "count your blessings" can come across as frightfully twee, but:

I'm alive

OK, it amuses people sometimes when I reply "I'm alive" to the question "How are you?" But I will then explain that some days "I'm alive" is the best you can hope for, and while there's life there's hope. Sounds negative? Well this year has been a very odd one, with it being - on paper - a bad year for me. And there have been moments when I have been in A&E and - let's be blunt - not sure if I'd survive. The day after that is always weird and special as you notice the small things. Sometimes it can be helpful to consider what if this was the final year of your life - what would you make the most of if it was your last summer, or last birthday or last Christmas?


Following on from this, while there have been some doctors who are total chumps - and indeed, one GP (I left the surgery after an appointment with her) who covers up her incompetence by being rude and aggressive - on the whole it has been good. I have a surgery which concentrates on patient health, and it is easy to make appointments. I can get the inhalers and tablets I am prescribed. I have a major A&E very close to me. My health is kept as good as it can be. In many countries I would not have this.

I have eyes

Don't knock it. My hobby is astronomy. I use a computer a lot. I watch TV. I love the natural world. So much enjoyment and essentials would go if I couldn't see.

I can walk

I see people in their wheelchairs and mobility scooters and think what a restriction that must be on life. There have been times - such as when I put my back out or when I have leg problems - that walking has been painful, so I am glad that most of the time it isn't.

I have family

However frustrating they can be. My childhood was very much one of family shrinkage, as we would receive yet another phone call about an elderly relative dying, and I was used to seeing older family decline. Since then it has been the reverse, as there have been marriages and a new generation being born. In addition, this has been the year of tracking down wider family that we've had no contact with for decades.

I have friends

I was the archetypal friendless swot at school. Now I have a wide circles of friends, with some really close friends.

I have a home

It's small and it's rented. But I have a roof over my head. That is more than millions of people around the world have.

I live in suburbia

Cue Terry & June music and thoughts of middle-class tweeness. But I have a good bus service (less than 10 minutes to the centre of Southampton). Less than 75 minutes walk to an aiport which could take me almost anywhere in western Europe (in response to their recent consultation, I have suggested they get Icelandair to run flights to Reykjavík on the grounds that this is a gateway to North America). I have a selection of supermarkets in walking distance - I remember discussing this with one friend who lives in a rural area and realising the amount of planning that goes into shopping for him, as he cannot nip down the road to a supermarket. I am close to a major railway station, so when jobhunting I know I have a wide range of location options. If I were at my parents', I would be restricted in where I can jobhunt. I can travel widely - if I plan it, I can go by train to many major European cities.

I live near to rural areas

New Forest, Test Valley, South Downs - all easy to get to.

I live in a climatically and geologically stable area

The United Kingdom is safe. I don't have to worry about tornadoes or tsunamis or earthquakes. Although we can get hot summers and snow in winter, we don't get the extremes in weather that there might be across much of North America. We can see disasters strike around the world and realise we don't have to face those risks.

I live in a politically stable country

I can vote. I have a democratically-elected city council and a democratically-elected House of Commons. This is a democracy. There are a few rotten apples in the police, but the forces of law and order do not oppress people - please avoid hysterical talk of need for a "British spring". Look at countries like Syria and Egypt. No government in the UK is going to gas its people.

I have freedom to worship

I can own and read a Bible. I can discuss it online without state censorship. I can attend church - the sort of freedoms many Christians would (and in many cases, do) die for.

I live in a country with a Christian heritage

A bit of a curate's egg (pun intended). The Church of England does jump on bandwagons, and although the Christian influence has declined, our laws were based on Christian values.

I do not go hungry

Supermarkets, fast food shops, department stores with customer restaurants....

I speak English as my first language

This is not the most common language but is the international lingua franca. Things are so much easier knowing it.

I have a computer and internet access

When my last computer broke down permanently, I realised just how important this is now. It is very much a lifeline to the outside world - if I need to apply for a job, order something, organise something....

Jesus Christ died for me, and I have the assurance of eternal life through Him

The Lord's Supper, instituted by Him, is where we have a Thanksgiving of Jesus Christ dying on the Cross, with the bread representing His body broken for us, and the wine His blood shed for us.

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