Practising gratitude is not always easy. Although there are many things upon which our lives depend, they tend to be things that seem so basic that it’s almost difficult to feel thankful for them. Fresh air to breathe, drinkable water that comes out of the tap, electricity that works almost all the time, the power outage for some of Thompson on Oct. 4 notwithstanding. These sorts of things feel so automatic that they’re hard to appreciate, even though, for the vast majority of human history, no one, not even the richest people, not even kings and emperors, had such luxuries available to them. Basically, when you take a longer-term view, there is plenty to be grateful about, perhaps most fundamentally simply the fact that we are alive at this time, when there is television and public education and internet and so many other technological marvels that make our lives easier, better or more entertaining.
That said, there are also plenty of situations and circumstances conspiring against our happiness. Earlier this week, gas prices in Thompson jumped more than 10 cents a litre, not long after having jumped three cents a litre. A trip to the grocery store can feel like you’re making a mortgage payment as food prices continue to rise. And you might be forced to wait for the privilege of paying for those groceries, as supermarkets are not immune to the labour shortages affecting so many businesses and industries, meaning there may not be enough cashiers to handle the crowds at busier times, like on weekends. If you run a business, you can be tempted to hire anyone with a pulse to keep it, if not running smoothly then at least running.
Then, of course, there’s the war in Ukraine, with Russian president Vladimir Putin recently suggesting that he might consider using low-yield nuclear weapons if anyone attacks parts of the Ukraine that have allegedly voted to become part of Russia which, a) doesn’t mean anything from a legal standpoint and, b) is quite often news to the residents of those areas.
What else has gone badly? Oh yeah, those hurricanes that have trashed communities and cost lives from the Caribbean through Florida and the Carolinas and right up into Atlantic Canada and Newfoundland.
Despite this perhaps feeling like the latest in a string of difficult-to-enjoy Thanksgiving weekends, coming on the heels of two years in which the holiday was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated public health restrictions, we can hopefully find at least a few things to feel thankful for locally.
As was the case last year, there’s the weather. Though the fall’s first dusting of snow arrived earlier this week, the temperature was in the mid-teens the day before it did, and a few days before that the thermometer topped 20 degrees, making it possible to enjoy novel experiences like mowing the lawn in October or soaking up the sunshine in your yard or on your deck without wearing a jacket. Granted, the reasons behind this warmer weather can be unsettling and may cause more damaging hurricanes and other strange weather events in the future, but a day without snow in October is something your senses can enjoy in the moment, even as your intellect ponders its darker implications.
Also, with October being the month of municipal and school board elections in Manitoba, we can be thankful not only that we live somewhere that we can pick and choose who will represent us, but also that, in the case of elections for mayor and council, there are enough candidates to make voting necessary. The same can’t be said this year for the School District of Mystery Lake board of trustees, but at least there were enough willing candidates to fill all seven available spots.
Finally, in recognition of the upcoming long weekend, those of us who like turkey can be thankful that you can get one for as little as $15, depending on the size, which can potentially feed a small family dinner for a few days. Alongside that, we can be thankful for turkey sandwiches. And, after a few weeks in which there were not one but two federal holidays, one in recognition of the queen’s funeral and the other the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which some people had off and some people didn’t, when school was open in one case and closed in the other, Thanksgiving Monday is relatively straightforward when it comes to the rules. Most things are closed and most workers qualify for a paid day off. If you do have to work, you get a higher-than-usual wage. Given the cost of gas and groceries, not missing out on a day’s pay or getting paid a little bit extra is something anyone can appreciate.
This editorial first appeared in the Oct. 7 print edition of the Thompson Citizen.