Think about what it means to be thankful

Have you ever been thankful? I mean, really thankful? So thankful that it hurts? Have you ever really thought about the meaning of the word, "Thanks?"

People are always thankful for something and to someone. Do they really mean it? Do they really feel it? Do you?

Do you feel it burning throughout your entire body?

Have you ever thought of what it would be like to be without? To be without what makes us what we are? Some say you don't miss what you don't have, but there is always something to miss. Or someone. Some of the things that are so conclusively important to us are very seldom thought of with a true and silent guttural cry of thanks. And in the end, it is never money or work that is so finally important.

I'm talking about the kind of thanks that comes as if your life depended on it. As if you truly are without. Think of what you may have right now as part of you. The things that make you able. The things that make you whole. To have all 10 fingers. To be able to move all 10 fingers. To be able to breathe normally. To be able to walk. To hear. To talk. To touch. To feel. To see. To sip water through a pair of lips, and without your insides bursting in pain. What would happen if you were without?

Imagine trying to embrace a loved one with no arms to offer them. To be able to tell someone how much you love them without a voice to deliver the words.

Your eyes may speak, but can offer no sound. To be able to smell something as simple as the skin of your child, or the face of your husband or wife. At any time, any one of these gifts can be taken away from us. And it is only then that people know what loss can really be aside from losing a loved one.

Something happened to me on Aug. 12, 1998. Something that made me realize real thanks. And every day of my life since then, I have given a least a few moments of thoughtful thanks (a prayer if you will, in my own words ... words that I believe) for not only the ones I love, but for the things that I so often forgot were part of me - the same things I'll wager many of you often overlook because you may think they will be part of our lives for life - the things that make up our own bodies and minds.

Real thanks is hard. You know why? Because it's painful. And I'm not talking about being thankful for something like getting a raise. I am thankful for my job, but any one of us can - when all else fails - get a job anywhere at anytime. It may not be the job we want at the time, but we all at least have the ability to get a job.

Which one of you has the power to return a dead loved one? Which one of you can replace a cancer-populated set of lungs? Which one of you can replace a pair of your legs after having them crushed and torn from their sockets in a car crash with ones that are fully functional?

Your boss comes into your office and says, "You're fired." Makes you feel sick. Right? Now pick up a phone and listen to the words of someone telling you your child was killed in an accident. Or your spouse. Or one of your parents. Or one of your siblings. Now how do you feel? Sick? No, more like you want to die. And in some cases, you do, long before you're really dead. There is no comparison. You may be alive, but you're no longer living. There's a difference.

We've all had near-hit incidents in our lives that we can consciously use as reminders of the harmful realities that could happen and what they would feel like if and when they did.

Still find it hard to be really thankful? Do you know what a real luxury it is to be able to touch? To feel? To breathe? To walk? To hear? To smell? To function without aid? To have those who you love around you? When was the last time you really gave thanks? None of those hurried, whiskey-drenched slurs that pass for grace at the Thanksgiving Day table by those who just can't wait to be the first one to spear the turkey gizzards. Real thanks. Like it hurts. Because it does.

Real thanks is the kind of thanks that fills your entire self every day and makes you pause throughout each day with conscious gratitude. The thanks that doesn't come with a turkey and all of the trimmings. The kind of thanks that is instead basted with the painful awareness of mortality, and stuffed with a feeling of being blessed with what you have, and knowing that what you have in mind and body, and the people you love most are given to us as gifts. Gifts that can be taken away.

Happy Thanksgiving to all - especially to those who know real thanks.

n John DiMambro is publisher of the Nevada Appeal. Write to him at


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