Gratitude and Thanksgiving – In All Circumstances

“Be thankful in all circumstances”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New Living Translation)

Today, and every second Monday of October, Canada is celebrating Thanksgiving Day. Wikipedia traces the roots of Thanksgiving to the celebration to give thanks for a good harvest. Most of us find it easy to be thankful when good things happen – getting that job promotion, receiving a gift you’ve always wanted, or even as simple as being treated out to a sumptuous dinner at a fancy restaurant. But what about when things didn’t go as planned? Or when you feel like the world is against you? Would you even think about being thankful?

That proved to be a powerful thought for me these past few days. About three and a half months ago, I blogged about the opportunity to speak at the 2011 PASS Community Summit. As I do a lot of technical presentations and speaking throughout the year, the PASS Community Summit happens to be the highlight of them all. This event has a special place in my heart as it has taught me to dream big and accomplish the seemingly impossible. It’s why I make it a point to attend the annual event and, if selected, deliver a technical presentation. Being selected to deliver a presentation is, in itself, an honour and an accomplishment. Imagine being picked from a hundred of potential speakers that are definitely a lot better and smarter than I am; it’s like making it in the NFL Draft. After receiving confirmation that I will be speaking at the conference, I immediately started preparing for my presentation – preparing a storyline, creating an outline and  preparing my slide deck. This preparation has helped me a lot in delivering the webcast equivalent last month at the 24 Hours of PASS Fall 2011 event. I’m all hyped up and ready to go. To top it all up, the much awaited SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2 book will be launched with schedules for author book signing. I didn’t make it to the book launch of Volume 1 so I was really excited to make it this time around.

That was until I knew I couldn’t.  Not being a Canadian citizen, I would need to have the proper immigration documents when travelling to and from Canada. I can go to Seattle to attend the conference but that would mean not being able to legally come back. And that is something that I simply can’t risk. Imagine how it felt like for the past two weeks for me – calling the immigration office to inquire about the status of my application, corresponding with the conference organizers telling them about my situation, and checking my mailbox every day to see if my immigration documents are already in. I was (and still am) hopeful that I can make it in time for my presentation schedule. But knowing how tight the timing was and that the long weekend could affect the mail delivery, I’ve finally made up my mind not to go. Those who knew about my situation were very positive and hopeful that I can still make it. But as far as I’m concerned, none of these things matter anymore. What matters now is how I look at the events that happened and how I can be grateful even when things didn’t happen as I wanted them to.  You see, the true meaning of Thanksgiving is when you know you’re thankful even when it’s hard to be thankful – being fired from your job, losing a loved one or missing out on an opportunity. It wasn’t easy for me and I’m sure it wouldn’t be for you. But we can always make that choice to be thankful “in all circumstances,” good or bad. What’s really amazing is that, years after those things have happened, I look back and really have a genuine feeling of gratitude for what happened. Do I miss being at the PASS Community Summit this year? Oh, I definitely do. But I sure do look forward to that day when I can look back at what happened and utter a sincere prayer of thanksgiving.

To all our Canadian friends, wherever you are, Happy Thanksgiving!

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