I am thankful for the ability to recognize excess. Recognizing it is the first step to avoiding it (although there are most certainly many more steps in between).
My mother decided to remodel the guest bathroom over the holiday -- meaning I spent New Year's day hanging over the toilet (installing linoleum). We went shopping today for a new shower curtain and other finishing accessories. As we browsed through assorted bathroom sets I couldn't help but be struck by the absurdity of them. Waste bins - designated for bathroom waste, at that - for $50. Shower curtains - that must have been spun from the tails of unicorns, for what they were charging for them. Row after row of plush, luxurious towels -- clearly intended for decorative purposes, only. It was as we were debating whether we should purchase one or two of these never-to-be-used-for-their-intended-function towels, that I began to balk at the whole thing. As I helped my mother pick out towels that will likely never dry a drop of water, I certainly couldn't help but to think of the many who could never imagine such luxuries/absurdities.
Now, I'm not going to take any stance here saying that we should rebuke all material goods or that we shouldn't live in comfort, whatever that might mean for us. And I certainly wasn't going to have the conversation with my mother about the needlessness of these towels. (What a long and useless conversation that would be.) But I am thankful that I have enough of an awareness to stop and think of such things. No, it's not the same as doing something about it, and I'm not patting myself on the back for it. But I will note it, and remember it, and allow it to color my own future actions. I am thankful I am not blind to such things, so that I may attempt to help others through my sight, in some way small or large.