(With the coming Thanksgiving Holiday, I’m reposting an article I wrote exactly 10 years ago to date.)
For the past several weeks now, I have been dreading the coming Thanksgiving Holiday and its weekend. It’s not that I am hosting a big and extravagant Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not that I am having difficult and crabby guests for the holiday. And it’s not that I am fearful of how much my wife will splurge on shopping on Black Friday. Nor am I panicking that I have to do the early Friday morning shopping myself and fight the huge crowd of rowdy shoppers. No, it’s not all those at all.
This year I got the short straw of the draw and I will be working on Thanksgiving holiday and the whole weekend. That means I am starting my call on Wednesday night, the whole Thanksgiving Day (Thursday), up to Black Friday, and continuing to the weekend (Saturday and Sunday). Yes, that’s more than 100 continuous hours of being on-call. This is the reason I don’t feel like a grateful Pilgrim. I feel more like the turkey that will be slaughtered for the Thanksgiving dinner!
As the holiday comes nearer, the more foul (or fowl- like a turkey!) my mood turns and the less thankful I feel. Until this morning….
In our clinic today, I met this “unfortunate” patient. He just buried his wife a couple of months ago, after she had a long battle with cancer. Now, he in turn was also diagnosed, a few days ago, with an unresectable cancer, that already spread. He was scheduled to start chemotherapy and radiation therapy right after the Thanksgiving holiday. And he is barely in his fifties. But in spite of all of his troubles, he managed to keep a positive outlook. He told me that he will celebrate this Thanksgiving with his daughters, for there are still “things to be thankful for.”
That man put me to shame. I really have nothing to complain about. And I really have a lot to be thankful for.
I am thankful that I will be working this holiday and the weekend, for that means I have a job. Considering that about 10% of Americans are currently unemployed (I have no idea of how many people are jobless in the world, probably millions), that is something to be grateful for.
I am thankful that I will be taking care of the sick patients in the hospital, and not the one who is sick that needed to be taken care of. Considering how ill our patients are, especially those in the ICU, I should really be filled with gratitude.
I am thankful that even though I may not dine with my family for the Thanksgiving dinner, at least I have a family that I can dine with, and be with, the rest of the days of the year. Considering that some people have no family to be with, I should be more appreciative of what I have.
Most of all, I should be thankful to my Creator that he created me as a human, so that I can experience how to laugh (and sometimes cry), how to love (and be loved), and how to live. Considering that I could have been a turkey. Really.
Thanksgiving, I believe, should not be limited to the observance of just the specific day itself. Thanksgiving is supposed to be the attitude of our life, and it should be our way of living. Nor should thanksgiving be limited to the specific circumstances in life that we are in. For as my wonderful patient have reminded me, there are always “things to be thankful for.”
As we celebrate this Thanksgiving, whether you are working or off this holiday, whether you are with your family or not, whether you are home or have no home, may we experience the right spirit of this season. Happy Thanksgiving!
I wonder if they will be serving turkey in the hospital cafeteria?
(*original post from November 23, 2011; photo taken several days ago with an iPhone)