On cue, with family, friends, food, football, and the noise of children at play – Thanksgiving has gobbled its way between the spooks of Halloween and good old Santa Claus.
“But the world is so messed up, for what can we be thankful?” you ask.
There are some individuals, perhaps many, who feel that we have small reason to give thanks, of any kind. Sadly, they are obsessed with only one aspect of life. We need to look beyond the clatter of Social Media; turn off the incessant whining and yelling that purports to be national news; lay aside the newspaper, and reflect on the wondrous things that surround us, the daily marvels both great and small.
“. . . those thing which we take most for granted are the things for which we should be most grateful.” (Ernest Cuneo, Indianapolis Star 11-24-1966)
Although first declared a National Holiday in 1864, Thanksgiving’s roots run much deeper than that. It is more than a celebration of Pilgrims and Indians; more than a day to gorge on turkey and pie; more than a day to gather with family; more than the start of Christmas shopping.
In the movie Field of Dreams, Terrence Mann proclaims:
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.”
Sorry Terrence, but it is Thanksgiving, not baseball, which has marked the passage of time. We have indeed steamrolled through history, always pushing forward, always building. However, regardless of their troubles, Americans have paused to reflect and to give thanks. We have done so in years of plenty and years of famine; in years of war and years of peace; in years of social unrest and years of complacency.
This year I suspect the headlines will include the President-Elect, war and death in the Mideast, and riots and crime here at home. The world is indeed in turmoil and chaos, yet that is not new news. Twenty-five years ago (1991) we worried about the legacy of the Gulf War and the fall of communism. Fifty years ago (1966) we read about the draft quota, increased Viet Cong activity, and an offer from Saudi Arabia to send troops to Jordon. Seventy-five years ago (1941) we feared the escalating war in Europe, tensions with Japan (Pearl Harbor was but two weeks away), and labor strife. Finally, one hundred years ago (1916) WWI was raging, we were building new battleships and a Court in Vigo County stopped an election recount.
Even in the dark days of 1941, Americans found cause to give thanks.
“In spite of the gloomy outlook in such fields, there is still ample occasion for a somber thoughtful . . . observance of Thanksgiving. ” Indianapolis Star Nov 20, 1941
Today’s news fades into insignificance by comparison; surely Americans have reason to give thanks. We live in a marvelous technological age, our lives are so much easier than they were just fifty years ago, our stores overflow with food and luxuries undreamed of by our parents and grandparents.
Therefore, this week I will close my eyes and listen to the chaos of grandchildren at play.
I will inhale the heady aroma of our feast – turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie.
I will revel in those that have gathered with me.
Yes, I will take stock of my blessings, and then I will smile, because once again, all is well in my world.
David L. Dahl
Hello, I’m David Dahl. When I’m not being Bugga (grandpa), I do some woodworking and write children’s books. My latest is Olivia’s Story: Protector of the Realm.
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