This Thanksgiving I played host to a group of family and friends. It was a diverse group with people in their 20s to those in their 80s. As we sat around the dinner table, we talked about how the world had changed in our lifetimes. It was the general consensus that the world now is more materialistic than ever before as evidenced by the insatiable appetite of consumers for more and better deals that have prompted retailers to open on Thanksgiving evening. And the materialistic nature of society is a result of the desire to fill a void in individuals’ lives, a void left by the degeneration of the family unit in society. It seems that the holiday traditionally spent around the family dinner table is being slowly consumed by the desire to consume not food but material goods.
At the end of our conversation, my guests asked me to share with them what I was thankful for this Thanksgiving. My answer was brief and not nearly as eloquent as they would have liked, but it gave me the inspiration to consider a little more in depth this Thanksgiving what I’m truly thankful for. I hope that all of my friends, family, and fans take time this holiday season to reflect on what they’re thankful for and what blessings they have in life.
I’m thankful that I was born free in America to a loving, hardworking, Christian family whose parents, my grandparents, were from the Greatest Generation. They taught their children, my parents, values and morals, the value of a dollar, honesty, not to be wasteful, and about hard work. They taught them the difference between right and wrong and that decisions and actions have consequences. They taught them the Golden Rule, and they built them a strong foundation both personally and spiritually. They taught them about personal responsibility. Collectively, they then taught me these same things.
I’m thankful that I was raised in a good neighborhood—a neighborhood free from crime and violence. It was a neighborhood where you knew your neighbors and where you could walk the streets any time of day or night without fear.
I’m thankful for the times I was grounded for doing something wrong; it taught me that actions have consequences and further instilled in me the concept of personal responsibility. It taught me to own up to my actions.
I’m thankful for never having had to worry about having a place to call home, a place to sleep, clothes on my back or food on the table. The basic necessities have always been there for me. There have been good times and bad times financially, times of abundance, and lean times. The lean times have made me appreciate the times of abundance all the more, and the times of abundance have taught me conservation and charity. Good or bad, I’m grateful.
I’m thankful for the warm hearts and strong hands of my parents and for the countless hours spent together as a family as a child—playing games, passing football in the yard, eating at the dinner table, talking about the day and life, helping me with homework, family vacations, and so on.
I’m thankful that I was able to go to a good public school and receive a good education in an environment where we never had to worry about being safe or about drugs or violence. The countless hours of homework helped me learn the skills I needed to succeed in this world—personally and professionally. It helped teach me patience and thoroughness, and the desire to get good grades taught me to work harder and harder for what I wanted. I’m thankful that my parents didn’t allow me to play or watch television until all the homework was done; it taught me to get the work done first so that I could relax without worrying about a looming project deadline. It’s a concept and work ethic that I have not forgotten.
I’m thankful that I was taught etiquette at home and in school. The basic things you need to know—like how to act in public, how to dress appropriately, how to introduce yourself to someone, how to show respect to and for others—are carried with you throughout life and help you far more than you can ever imagine. They are a measure of one’s character, particularly in this world of increasingly bad manners, rude behavior, and self centeredness.
I’m thankful for being taught the importance of respect, for being taught to respect my elders, and for being respected by my family in return.
I’m thankful for the failures in life; they made me stronger, and they made the successes all the more rewarding and satisfying. The failures are learning opportunities from which we can take lessons to help secure future successes. Though the failures hurt, the lesson is timeless: Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.
I’m thankful for the real friends, not the acquaintances, who have been there for me through thick and thin, good and bad times. The real friends are the ones you can call at three in the morning to come get you because you can’t drive or because your car broke down. The real friends are the ones who tell you the way it is; they tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They’re honest with you when you need to hear the honest and sometimes painful truth.
I’m thankful for the advice and encouragement from family and friends along the way. The advice they give is to help you in life and to help you make good decisions. The advice helps you gain the wisdom that they have learned in their lives from their experiences and those of their family and friends. They give it not because they think you’re not capable but rather because they have your best interests in mind as well. Their encouragement gives you the strength to go on when you’re down or when all seems lost. Their encouragement helps bolster your confidence when you’re unsure of yourself.
I’m thankful for the support group of my family and friends. They’ve been there with me when I needed someone to listen to me. They’ve been there when I needed a shoulder to cry on. They’ve been there when I needed help and encouragement. They’ve given more time freely than I could have ever expected. More importantly, they would be there for me if I lost everything tomorrow, and I hope they know that I am and will be there for them.
I’m thankful for the college education that provided me with the skills to be successful in business and in life. I received a great education at an accredited business school at a great university where class sizes were small, where the curriculum was relevant, where the faculty was helpful and approachable, and where the faculty’s real world business experience helped me understand theory in the context of the real world. Perhaps more importantly, I’m thankful that I’ve been able to use my education and my degree. Far too many graduates don’t put their degrees to good use. I’m lucky that I’ve used it every single day since I graduated, and I hope to use it every day from here on out.
I’m thankful for the blessings in life: health, happiness, and success. I’m thankful for the blessing of good health. Amidst all the suffering and sickness in this world, being healthy is to be cherished. I’m seen too many in this world suffer through illness and disability. I’m blessed to be well, to be able to walk and talk, to be in possession of my full faculties, to be able to hear and see, to be free from serious sicknesses. I’m thankful that I’ve been happy in life. I see the unhappiness and misery in the world each and every day. I’ve had no cause to be unhappy or suffer from depression. I’ve made the best of each day. I’m thankful for the successes that I’ve had that have enabled me to lead a good, clean, comfortable life.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to give back to causes that I hold dear. To be successful but to be miserly is to have failed. Those who have been blessed with more than they need should give back to those less fortunate in an effort to make a difference in the world. I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to support worthwhile causes, ones very dear to my heart—no kill animal shelters, organizations that help veterans, homeless shelters, meals on wheels programmes.
I’m thankful for my cats who give me unconditional love and affection. They’ve made my world a better place. They’ve given me countless hours of joy and happiness. They’ve made me laugh and smile. They’ve helped me make it through those tough, stressful days with a well-timed head bump or a welcome interruption by stepping on the keyboard to tell me it was time for a break. They’ve shown me what it means to care for someone more than yourself. They’ve made me a better person and made a difference in my life far more than I could ever have imagined. I truly believe they’re angels sent here just for me.
All in all, I’m thankful for a life well led thus far. I’m thankful I have no reason for regrets.
I’m thankful for each new day and the opportunities each new day brings.
What more could I ask for?
About Mr. Cartwright— Digger Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versailles Conspiracy, a modern day political thriller, Murder at the Ocean Forest, a traditional mystery novel set in the 1940s, The House of Dark Shadows, a psychological thriller, and The Maynwarings: A Game of Chance, a mystery set in the Old West. His latest book, Conversations on the Bench, is an inspirational/motivational novel. His books are available in hardback, paperback, and e-book format through his website, www.DiggerCartwright.com, on-line booksellers and bookstores.
Mr. Cartwright has contributed to a number of articles on a wide range of financial, strategic planning, and policy topics. He frequently contributes articles, commentaries, and editorials focusing on current economic and political topics for the private think tank, Thinking Outside the Boxe.
He enjoys golf, participating in charity golf tournaments, and attending WWE events. He divides his time between Washington, D.C., South Carolina, and Florida.
Executive Assistant to Mr. Cartwright