The leaves have finally fallen from the trees. Soon, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends.
As part of the usual Thanksgiving ritual, it’s time to “dust off” the usual holiday cliches that gives this day its unique distinction among holidays. Along with each statement written in italics, I offer another perspective, even if it is only tongue-in-cheek.
• I’m thankful for all of my family. Does this include extended family members and siblings you never see except at funerals and weddings? Isn’t it great when you can say nice things about people you never intend to actually meet and do things together?
Only kidding, Mom!
• I’m thankful that we have been blessed with an abundance of food and the resources to provide all basic necessities for our family. Very basic, but good. We have food, clothing, a shelter that protects us from the elements and a place we can call “home,” where we can raise a family and care for them. These are the basic hierarchy of needs that everyone relates to throughout their entire lives.
A recent “CBS Sunday Morning” show reported on America’s new poor. These people drive expensive SUVs and fancy imports. They live in posh neighborhoods, like those surrounding Atlanta, Ga. They are recently unemployed, are underwater with their six- or seven-figure mortgages, which is about to slip into foreclosure. Their savings are gone and they have little available cash to pay for this week’s groceries.
This Thanksgiving, they will discover new ways to express their gratitude for all the good things in life they still possess. These people used to give to food pantries that served nameless poor living in the backwaters of the rural countryside and in the ghettos of the inner city. Now, they are beneficiaries of the same charity.
Should we feel sorry for them? Why should we not? They lived extravagantly on money that was leveraged to the hilt, would you not agree? Yes, they did. Have you and I ever made any mistakes that could have or did hurt us financially? Did we not deserve a little compassion as well? Need I say more?
If this recession teaches us anything, we must confess that we do not live in a status-quo world. Even agriculture, though it appears we are more prosperous than at any other time in recent history—even after facing the greatest heat wave since the Dirty Thirties—we dare not assume these blessings of abundance will always be available when we need them.
We would do well to heed the warning, to live within our means while we store up reserves for the hard times that most assuredly will come.
In short, there, but for the grace of God go I.
• I’m thankful that we live in the United States of America, where we have the freedom to live our lives in the way we choose. No argument here. Thanksgiving is an American holiday. We live in a democratic republic with a constitution and bill of rights that guarantees every American citizen’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Actually, there is one valid argument: Perhaps we should rather say, “I’m thankful my parents taught me to exercise my freedom within the boundaries of personal and moral responsibility.”
If our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness results in the oppression and acts of injustice perpetrated on other citizens at home and abroad, then we have abused our right and our privilege to live as we choose.
The recent events of 2007-08— the bailout of institutions deemed too big to fail—comes to mind. Not to mention the millions of homeowners whose mortgages slipped into default and foreclosure, thanks to the alleged fraudulent business practices of mortgage lenders who were more focused on making multi-million-dollar bonuses than serving their customers.
• I’m thankful we live in a country where we are free to worship God in any way we choose. My ancestors emigrated to this country in the 1870s for this reason. The challenge for American citizens in the future, though, is how this freedom is translated by immigrating citizens who have no cultural reference to the concept of separation of church and state, or where there is no clear distinction between the two.
• I’m thankful for all of my friends. Does this include the 98 percent of all Twitter and Facebook “friends” that rarely, if ever, contribute to the conversation?
What about all of my friends at the local coffee hang-out, aka, the Lehigh Double Circle Day Care? Dare I exclude them in this toast? Actually, they are a great group of guys—and women, that is, when they attend the annual watermelon and cruller festival and “farewell to Sharon and the harvest help” meeting.
Oops, I already said too much. I violated the one basic rule of the unwritten Double Circle Day Care by-laws: What happens in Lehigh, stays in Lehigh.
Sorry, fellas. I’ll bring cookies and doughnuts the next time I come around.
• I’m thankful for my wonderful spouse; he/she is my life-long partner, lover and friend. I could not/would not dare do anything without him/her.
I think I will let this one stand alone. Enough said.
May you all enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with all family and friends.