Giving Thanks Today

Handwritten page with the words I am thankful for ThanksgivingToday is Thanksgiving in the United States, and American families everywhere are coming together to celebrate family, life, and all the good that happened over the past year.

Thanksgiving was established as a holiday in 1863 during the American Civil War. It was supposed to bring the country together when Americans were the most divided they’d ever been. Thanksgiving was seen as a way to unite the divided country, remember our pioneering spirit, and heal the wounds of war.

The real first Thanksgiving (with the pilgrims and Native Americans) happened a lot differently, of course. It was more in line with the old tradition of celebrating the harvest (and the fact that they survived that first year!).

As I spend the day away from America (yet again), I can’t help but miss it a bit. There’s something very special—and very American—about today. Being with family and friends and doing nothing but eating. But Thanksgiving is also about pausing long enough between the turkey and the pumpkin pie to give thanks for all the blessings of life.

So as I think about this day and what it means, I’m thankful. As 2011 draws to a close, I can’t help but think about the incredible year this has been and all that I have to be thankful for.

I’m thankful that I got the chance to become an author. I never thought I’d wake up one day and have a major publishing house (Penguin) emailing me, eager to put one of my ebooks into print. I’m still in shock and can’t wait to walk into Barnes and Noble and see my book there.

I’m thankful for all the amazing people who read my website. I’m still not sure why you do it, but I thank you for filling my comment section with thoughtful discussion. It makes me strive to be better and produce great content.

I’m thankful for all the people who write mean not-so-constructive comments on the site, too. They keep me on my toes, make me explain everything in detail, and inspire a lot of posts. I am motivated by their negativity.

I’m thankful for all the people who send me emails telling me that I inspired them to set off around the world. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to leave the world a better place; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—This is to have succeeded.” I still find it shockingly amazing that I inspire people. That alone makes everything matter.

I’m thankful that I’ve had the amazing opportunity to travel for five years. I never expected this trip to last so long, but it has and I’m blessed for it.

I’m thankful for all the other travelers I’ve met on the road. When I get jaded, their excitement reminds me why I started in the first place.

I’m thankful for all the amazing bloggers out there. It’s great meeting them as I travel the world, and it’s great to have people out there who share my love of the Internet and travel.

I’m thankful for being able to make it online. Having this website, being able to work from a beach in Thailand, and doing what I love is the best job in the world. I never want to see a cubicle again.

I’m thankful for all the wonderful friends and great family I have. They are nothing short of awesome.

Mostly, I’m just thankful for life and having so many great things to be thankful for. I live this amazing existence, and I often wake up thinking, “Damn, life really is good. Maybe too good. Am I dreaming?” I’m really lucky to be able to do that. You never know how quickly life can change, and 2011 has been a very good year so far. All good things must come to an end sometime but until then, I’m just going to ride this wave as long as it goes.

Reading the news about the down economy, unemployment, social strife, and suffering around the world, I’m reminded just how lucky and fortunate I am to have a job, my health, and a good network of friends and family.

Because sadly, not everyone is so lucky. So today as you give thanks for your own blessings, I hope you remember and help those in need. Not just today but every day.

Everyone should always have at least one thing to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for today?

  1. Beautiful.
    I’m thankful for having sold my business this year, for having taken an extended holiday in Europe and Canada, for still being unemployed and having to learn to make a living in a creative way. And of course thankful for my friends and family and being alive.

  2. Totally thankful for being on the road again.

    As a fellow American abroad, I gotta admit it’s tough talking to family back home… turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and all that goodness going on without me.

    My wife and I had lobster for dinner. Good… but not the same.

  3. Tim

    Great post, Matt. I’ve been reading up a storm on your site the past couple weeks or so. I’m preparing to take off on my own adventure starting in October of next year. I’m learning a ton from you and other great travel bloggers. Keep it up, man. Maybe someday I’ll see you on the road! Happy (late) Thanksgiving.

  4. Thanks for a thoughtful and heart-felt post, Matt. Its nice that despite having a such a successful blog as yours, you incude reflective posts like these, a little of yourself- its definitely stuff I love reading. Well done on all your hard work paying off, and for inspiring people like me to follow their dreams of indefinite travel. Cheers. Oh and congrats on the book deal. Thats awesome :)

Leave a Comment