Todd’s Thanksgiving Thankfulness Testimony

Today marks the first time I have ever been out of the United States for Thanksgiving, and I can admit that I’m a little bummed about it (not as bummed as I was for missing Halloween, but I digress). People who aren’t from the States or have never experienced an American Thanksgiving just don’t get it. They don’t understand why it’s a big deal to Americans. They think it’s just another American excuse to eat a lot (which might not but super far off the mark). I heard it described by someone from England as “it’s pretty much a Christmas day feast, but Americans are greedy and want two.”

I’ve gone through the process of explaining to multiple people what Thanksgiving is all about—family, giving thanks, and football. Sadly I can only do one of these this year.

I was able to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner of sorts here on the ship though. One of the Nurses (Jodi from Washington state) had her contract extended, and her one stipulation was that she was allowed to have a Thanksgiving dinner. It was the first Thanksgiving dinner I have ever had with people from outside of the states. To give you an idea, there were only 3 Americans out of 14 people. But even so, you could still feel the friendship in the room. Having turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, and PUMPKIN PIE helped too 😉

So to my family: please enjoy without me. Remember, I love you all and miss you. Don’t let the card games get too intense, because at the end of the day I’m still the best buck player in the family. However, I will temporarily release my crown until Easter.

And for football, all I’ve got to say is Go Lions. Calvin Johnson is a freak of nature and will one day rule the world. (Still love the “who would win in a fight between Calvin Johnson and LeBron James,” I’m taking Megatron).

With all that said, I can give thanks for all I have. So below is a list of 10 things that I am thankful for this year.

This list is a combination of things. Some of the things I am thankful for are people; others are things; and some are characteristics that I’m thankful that I possess. Please realize that I am thankful for much much more, but these are just the highlights.

My Health

Without my health, I wouldn’t be able to do anything I’ve done. I’ve been lucky throughout my life in having no serious health issues or concerns. You start to appreciate this more and more when you see mentally and physically handicapped people on each cruise you work on. If seeing them doesn’t make you appreciative for who you are and what you can do, then check your pulse.

My Friends and Family

This one may sound cliché and I know that people say they have great family and friends. But in truth, those people don’t have anything on mine. You don’t really realize how close you are with people and how much they mean to you until you go halfway across the world. I appreciate every single e-mail, tweet. facebook message, and snapchat I’ve gotten. You guys are all great. It helps to make me feel like I’m still home.

The Chance to Travel

Anyone who knows me knows that I encourage people to travel as much as they can. I once read “travel is the one thing you can buy that makes you richer” and I can’t agree with that more. I’ve been out of the States for 3 months and I can’t express in words how rewarding it has been. From the people I’ve met to the places I’ve seen, it’s truly enriched my life and been a blessing. So I implore you to please take that trip you’ve been putting off. I don’t care if it’s across the country, over the ocean, or just one town over. Go. See something new. Experience as much as you can.

Having a job – One that I enjoy (most of the time)

Thousands of people across the world wonder where their next meal is coming from or how they are going to pay their rent each month. I don’t have those worries because I have a job where my basic needs are met. I am even able to buy things I don’t need because of my monthly income. Never lose sight of that. Don’t care if you’re a CEO or working at a gas station. Be thankful if you can afford the necessities and a little extra.

My love for reading and desire to write

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, reading makes you a better and more useful human being. Not everyone likes to read, which is something I can’t fathom. I love being immersed in a book. I love going to Hogwarts, Narnia, Middle Earth, or any other of a million places while never leaving my bedroom. I love reading what the great minds before us—Vonnegut, Emerson, Wilde, Frost, Nietzsche—all thought. Their beliefs are right there in front of us, all we have to do is open our eyes.

“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.” – Phillip Pullman


I know it seems like a super obvious one, but you don’t realize how amazing technology is or how far we’ve come until you are 13,000 miles away from being able to not only talk to your parents or friends but literally see them as well. You know it’s 2013 when snapchats make you more homesick than anything else.

My Background

I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. But I was lucky enough to grow up with everything I needed with a little more. Wide open spaces, friendly people, and good morals. I was blessed with parents who trusted me to make my own decisions. How many parents are okay with their kid major in Philosophy, ditching law school, then jumping on a cruise ship in Australia? Yeah, I know. My parents rock. They’ve always given me freedom and confidence to live my life my way and take whatever comes in stride.

Being Born in the United States

This is NOT an “AMERICA IS THE BEST” thing. This is me stating the reality of the situation. Like it or not, being born in America is a huge life advantage. I constantly have people telling me how much they want to live there or visit but can’t get in. There are hundreds of people working on the ship who are smart, nice, and friendly but who were born in a less than desirous location, which has lead to them taking a job like this to survive not to see the world and meet people.

Finding my courage

People have a tendency to dislike change and play it safe. I could have stayed in Omaha working at Gavilon and just been “punching the clock” so to speak. But I knew I would be miserable in the long run. So I asked myself what I really wanted to do. I came up with: travel and work with people. I then started looking into jobs that did both, and ended up on a cruise ship in Australia. When I was first hired, I admit I had second thoughts. It was a huge change. But a change of scenery was something I needed. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if I’ll do another contract or move to Europe or to So Cal, but I do know that at the end of the day I know that taking chances is a vital part of an interesting and worthwhile life.

Being Me

I was driving one day and the following thought came into my head: if you could be reborn as yourself or ANYONE else at random would you want to (yeah these are the thoughts that just pop into my head)? This means you could end up being Warren Buffet or LeBron James, but it also means you could end up being the homeless man down the street. Within a few seconds, I knew the answer for me was a big fat No. Nothing against anyone else, but I’m super happy with who I am and who I’m slowly becoming. I once read “I don’t change, I simply become more myself.” Regardless, working with people every day it really started hitting home how fortunate I am to be who I am and have what I have.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and family I leave you with this:

“What is family? They were the people who claimed you. In good, in bad, in parts or in whole, they were the ones who showed up, who stayed in there, regardless. It wasn’t just about blood relations or shared chromosomes, but something wider, bigger. We had many families over time. Our family of origin, the family we created, and the groups you moved through while all of this was happening: friends, lovers, sometimes even strangers. None of them perfect, and we couldn’t expect them to be. You can’t make any one person your world. The trick was to take what each could give and build your world from it.” -Sarah Dressen

Stay Gold.

Todd Smidt

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