Patterico's Pontifications


How To Enjoy Your Thanksgiving (And Life) More Fully, Plus Bonus Music

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:30 am

Happy Thanksgiving! As I usually do on this day, I am linking my traditional Thanksgiving post, first posted on my personal blog in 2006. I won’t repost the whole thing here, but it tells a story about my daughter when she was a baby. (This time next year, she will be in college.) The short version is that I walked out of a music concert with her because she was upset. I sat in the car with her, and held her in my arms . . . and had a better time than I would have had in the concert.

Here’s the key part: the post asks you to imagine your life today — right now — as if you were an older version of yourself, sent back in time to briefly relive this moment and this day:

And then I realized: some day, years in the future, I might be asking the same question about my life today — this very minute. If you could have this moment back to live over again, what would you do?

The rest of that evening, I pictured myself as having been sent into my body from the future, to relive the moments I was experiencing. And I saw everything differently. I sat on the couch and watched television with my arm around my wife — all the while imagining myself as an old man, transported back in time to relive that moment. And all of a sudden, what otherwise might have seemed like a mundane moment seemed like a privilege. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world, just sitting there with my wife.

I’ve tried the trick all weekend, and it really changes your outlook. Just sitting around with a sleepy child in your arms is great any way you look at it. But if you picture yourself as someone whose child has grown up — if you imagine yourself as an older man, who would give the world to be back in that chair with that child in his arms — it makes you realize how important the moment is. And you appreciate it more.

This is the best Thanksgiving gift I can give you. It’s nothing more than a way of focusing your mind on the present. Of being aware of the now. This life is God’s gift to us. We honor Him by giving thanks, and by living it as acutely aware as possible of the greatness of the gift.

This advice is tougher to follow in hard times. For those having a difficult time of it right now, there is this advice: dwell on the good. At my personal site, my guest blogger Dana (for whom I am thankful, as I am thankful for my guest blogger JVW and all my readers) gives us this passage to reflect on from Phillippians 4:8:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

The bonus music today is a short and incomplete cantata written by Johann Sebastian Bach on the theme of giving thanks to God. It is BWV 192: “Nun danket alle Gott” (Now Let Everyone Thank God).

The text is here, and these are the words of the opening chorus:

Now let everyone thank God
with hearts, mouths, and hands,
Who does great things
for us and to all ends,
Who has done for us from our mother’s wombs
and childhood on
many uncountable good things
and does so still today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

7 Responses to “How To Enjoy Your Thanksgiving (And Life) More Fully, Plus Bonus Music”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (0170be)

  2. Thank you, Patrick, for being an outpost of sanity.

    Years ago, when I was in the hospital after breaking my hip, I was pretty depressed. Then I looked around and realized that many of the patients in there were in (for various reasons) in much worse shape than I was. So I’ve always kept that in mind: mo matter how bad things are, look around and you will realize there are plenty of people in worse shape. There are plenty of ways in which life could be worse. So you can at least be thankful things are actually good for you.

    kishnevi (ec71b1)

  3. Back at’cha, P.

    Enjoy the day w/your family.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  4. Excellent.

    Love this post.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    shipwreckedcrew (56b591)

  5. Thank you, Patterico, and best wishes to your family. My oldest son goes to college next year, as well. Time doesn’t fly, it flees.

    Simon Jester (11f8db)

  6. I had the same experience when our son was at the Mayo Clinic pediatric neurology clinic, kishnevi. I have never felt as helpless or shocked as I felt seeing those poor children.

    DRJ (15874d)

  7. It was 20 years ago this Thanksgiving week. Thanksgiving at Mayo in Rochester, Minnesota, with a desperately ill child is a hard place to be, but it was the beginning of finding some answers and a better life for our family. It is good and Godly to keep a positive, thankful attitude.

    DRJ (15874d)

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