Every Thanksgiving, my family goes around the table and repeats a tradition as old as the holiday itself: saying what we’re thankful for.
A little cliche? Yes. But also a moment for a mini-panic? That too.
It’s in that moment, usually half-asleep in a food coma, that one must gather the strength to focus and craft at least 120 eloquent seconds of heartfelt (but not overly heartfelt) and personal (but not too personal) words of thanks on the fly. It’s an art.
And today I’m struck by two things. The first is this: I’m looking ahead to just how much for which we have to be thankful for tomorrow. For so many of us who write for this blog and read it, it’s easy to overlook how much God has given to us.
In a world plagued by civil war, we are thankful that our daily thoughts do not center on fleeing a war-torn country for the chance to live a normal life.
In a civilization threatened by terrorism, we are thankful for another day of safety and security. In a hemisphere that marks the coming of winter, we are thankful for warmth and food that so many won’t have.
In a world in which the doors of education are not opened to everyone, we are thankful for the college degree that puts us in the top tier, no matter the GPA or student debt. In a society overridden by loneliness and isolation, I am thankful for friends and family who care enough to dive deep and give tough love.
And in a career in which coworkers remain imprisoned in foreign countries and are executed on live television, I am thankful for my own life and meaningful calling to pursue truth.
Yes, tomorrow—in that moment of truth (and feeling stuffed)—my mind will turn to things for which I am thankful. But not yet.
Because today is the day before Thanksgiving. And the second thing that strikes me is this. I will spend the vast majority of my life in the day before Thanksgiving.
On this day I usually lack the intentionality of true gratitude and full understanding of my privilege in so many areas of my life. I’m just one step away from truly reflecting on how much God has blessed me, but never quite fully reaching that moment.
So this year, I’m aiming to avoid the panic-filled moment at Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, there will be moments I leave out. Moments for gratitude I will miss. Gifts that I will obliviously overlook and take for granted.
But gratitude isn’t meant to be reserved for one day—and certainly not a panic-filled moment after Thanksgiving dinner. Because the day before Thanksgiving is where we spend our lives. Let’s live today with tomorrow in mind.
Ryan Struyk (’14) graduated from Calvin with majors in political science and mathematics. He currently covers the 2016 elections for abc News in Washington. He’s also done political polling in New York City and reported on the Idaho state legislature for the Associated Press in Boise. In his free time, Ryan enjoys talking about inferential statistics, music theory, and his beloved Detroit Tigers.