Good morning to all of you out there.  Thank you for stopping by for another in our series on Thankfulness.  For those of you who are new to the series, we here at the Guide have been dedicating ourselves to remembering the positive things in life.  This doesn’t mean that we are optimists to a fault.  Bad things are bound to happen now and again.  But we do believe that when we focus on those blessings we have in our life we become happier.

What inspired us to follow this path was all of the negativity that we have been experiencing in the world recently.  I saw all those angry out there, yelling at one another and “unfriending” those around them.  We were sad to see people who had been friends for decades throwing it all away.  How can one throw away decades worth of meaningful conversation?  I suppose this shows us our humanity.  But we wanted to inspire the world to something better.

How could we do this?  Well . . . we needed to think about what things made us happy.  This begins with remembering to count the blessings that we have in life.  So many different things happen in life we take for granted.  We wanted to no longer take those things for granted.  We believe remembering those things bring happiness.

But we are human so when we begin to think about the things we are thankful, we remember what things we are thankful for, we begin to think about what’s going on.  Sometimes this means a scare at a haunted ship.  At other times we think of ghostly holidays where sweets are the order of the day.   But whatever we do remember week to week, we remember to be grateful for those things that are a blessing to us.  While I have already marked the things I am thankful for about Halloween, when I got to this week, I started thinking about the Day of the Dead festivals going on.

While this may be a local festival, originate from the Aztecs and incorporated into the Catholic Church in Mexico and coinciding with All Saints Day, there are many great things about this celebration to remember.  And so when I got to this week’s thankful things, this festival inspired my selections for things to be thankful for.  So without further ado, I present 70 Days of Thankfulness week 7 – Dia De Los Muertos edition.

70 Days Of Thankfulness – Week Seven

45)  I am thankful for my ancestors.

I have already talked about my family and reasons to be grateful to them.  But when it comes to being thankful, I limit myself when only speaking of extended family.  In truth, our ancestors did so many things for us which make our living conditions better than they were back then.  Between people developing vaccines to establishing a system of governance, keeping relative peace between its peoples for hundreds of years, I am grateful for those who came before me.

Just a part of me has to remember those who left their own countries and traveled across an ocean, not being sure what to expect on the other side and making homes for themselves we should remember.  While I could litigate the past and be upset for this slight or that blunder, they brought me to a land which would establish the greatest systems of freedom in the history of mankind.  Sure it’s not perfect.  Nowhere is.

46) I am thankful for cemeteries.

I know this may seem strange.  But I would ask today who is normal?  In all seriousness, cemeteries are another way we can remember our past.  This past has particular meaning to us instead of the nebulous past one gets at a museum.  At these places we can honor our dead or fallen people and the lives they lived.  We remember them because we do not wish to forget.  Not because we always want to venerate them.  But we want to remember the good and the bad they brought and to honor their contributions while not forgetting their foibles.  Also, cemeteries remind us that we are mortal.  So do well and make your mark on the world today.  Our lives on this planet are but a fleeting instant.  It’s the relationships and the way we change lives which makes the lasting difference.

47)  I am thankful for Mexico.

I truly am grateful for the country and the people they produced.  Yes their government can be described as dysfunctional.  And yes, I would like to keep the drug culture as far away from here as possible.  But the drug problem doesn’t get solved by blaming or marginalizing a people group.  And the people of Mexico bring to the table so many different amazing things we often ignore.  Their dedication to family and to better themselves no matter the cost should be an inspiration to all of us.

Leaving aside the politics of it all, these people have brought culture, food, and the importance of family to the U.S. in a way we far too often forget.  In a world of fractured individualists, the people of Mexico often remind us of the importance of family and tradition in a way that few cultures do.  Sure they are not perfect.  But I would ask again, who is?  And have I said I love the food.  Just didn’t want to forget that.

48)  I am thankful for stories.

I don’t know who sat around the first camp fire and decided that it would be awesome to tell tales of years gone by.  But whoever did needs to win a Nobel Prize or something. Seriously!  My life revolves around the stories my family would tell about things that happened to them.  I miss just sitting there and listening to my grandfather and father recall the things happening to them from years gone by.  Whether they were of crazy volunteer fire stories, or planting redwood trees in the middle of a place where none other existed, these tales shaped our family existence.  And each tale comes with a lesson to learn and to pass on to other generations.  These stories beautifully remind us of the ups and downs of life.  I cannot imagine an existence without them.

49)  I am thankful for bread.

Whether or not my doctor, dietitian or weight trainer are thankful for it may be another thing.  But bread means life.  From the simple proteins to the way bread ties everything together at a meal, who cannot be thankful for bread?  It is life giving.  Bread sustains us.  And bread nourishes us in a way few things do.  Besides, who can forget the smell of fresh baked bread as it permeates the house when cooked in the oven?  Just the thought takes my mind back to simpler times with family and friends surrounding us sharing a meal.  And while I understand some people may have issues with gluten, today you can even get gluten free bread.  I don’t think I could imagine a life without bread.  And I wouldn’t want to.

50) I am thankful for tradition.

Aside from cemeteries, stories and celebrations, tradition encapsulates the patterns of life.  While tradition without context loses meaning, tradition should infuse life into our daily routine.  Every family has their own traditions.  I remember singing grace around the table every thanksgiving with the rest of my mother’s family.  Just the thought of that takes me back to childhood and the smile of contentment on my grandmother’s face with every grandchild surrounding her.  I cannot help but smile when I remember sitting with my uncles as we would watch football games and cheer on the local sports teams.  Whether our teams won or lost, we created bonds and togetherness.

51)  I am thankful for cultural diversity.

While I appreciate my ancestors and where they came from, I think today with the way we blend cultures in society we create something bigger and better than the individual parts.  I don’t like stepping into politics here, but this one thing I feel like I have to take a stand on.  I believe other cultures have beautiful things about them.  Despite what you may think, I do not wish to rob them of those things.  On the contrary.  I want to celebrate the amazing things those cultures contribute.

When we criticize people for wanting to celebrate the beauty in other cultures we alienate people from each other.  I believe we have enough alienation going on already.  Why do we want to contribute to that?  Obviously, I am not for mocking people of other cultures.  But if I love Mexican food and want to aspire to help others like Cesar Chavez, does that mean I am guilty of cultural appropriation?  I think not.  I want to celebrate those things.  And so should you.

Continue the Conversation –

How much do you know about the Dia De Los Muertos Festival?  Have you only read about it or seen it in films like Book of the Dead?  Or have you participated in some form of traditional celebration?  If you have, what was your favorite part of the celebration?  And what things do you like to remember about those who came before you?  As always, I love hearing from you.  (Plus, if you haven’t participated already, please check out this last post and come up with a good question for me to answer.  The top ten questions will be answered by the end of this week.)

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Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life