It took a weekend of fouled plans, a flat tire and a mother-in-law’s injury to realize again why I should be thankful.
Nothing had worked out quite like I planned for either Saturday or Sunday. There wasn’t enough time or energy for everything that needed doing. What yard work I had managed to complete left me full of dog fennel pollen, but in the age of COVID, one can never be too sure if it’s allergies or the plague, so I missed church. Miss Rhonda was on her way to spend a few days with her folks. You see, Aunt Faye had a bad fall a while back, and without going into too much detail, my bride is spending a certain amount of time helping.
My beloved was about a third of the way to their home when she called. The tire which we had eyed with suspicion as she left had indeed lived up to our expectations. To add to the woes and worries, we have yet to be able to find a rim that would fit her car, so she was running without a spare.
Thankfully, our preacher was able to arrange some assistance; the guys went above and beyond, especially considering it as a Sunday afternoon.
When she called to say everything was okay, and she was on the road again, I had to stop, say a prayer of thanks, and think about all the blessings I take for granted far too often.
I’m grateful for my salvation through Jesus Christ, something I could never have earned, which cannot to be taken away. I am thankful and humbled that the creator of the universe knew of me before he spoke the world into being, knew everything wrong and right I would ever do, and yet loved me enough to give his own son to pay my sin debt, then bring him back from the grave to prove that his word is true.
I am thankful that my parents were firm but gentle, reasonable yet uncompromising, and that they did their best to prepare me for what the world might offer. They could have had little idea how far sideways things might skid, but then again, they saw paradigm shifts in their lifetimes, so maybe they did at least have an inkling. Either way, I am thankful that I had two parents who did the best they could. I was never hungry or homeless growing up, except when my own judgment led me down those paths. Even then they were willing and ready to help me get back where I needed to be.
I am thankful for a wife who loves me despite my being me, one who loves the same things I do, one who can care for the smallest animal yet stand up to the biggest bully, one who I know will laugh at my jokes, hold my hand, dry my tears, or cover me as she did when a party turned into an almost riot in front of our home so many years back, or call me out when I am wrong.
I am thankful to have been born in the greatest country ever created. Even with its problems, even with those who are trying so hard to turn it into a cesspool like others have become, America is still America.
I’m thankful for those who willingly put their lives on the line to protect this country from those who would destroy it, and to share the idea of freedom with those who might never know that the greatness of America comes from the most basic of freedoms.
I am grateful for a family that I love, as disparate and desperate and dispersed as we may be.
I am grateful for friends who I consider family, people I can count on and who can count on me whether things are tough or terrific. If you don’t have a circle of friends who can be called on for reassurance or remonstrance, a gallon of gas or heavy equipment, or who won’t argue with you over who’s buying lunch — I feel sorry for you.
I’m thankful that there are professionals who voluntarily stand between my family and the evil that is so pervasive in this world, men and women in blue and gray and tan who know every day that they could be injured or killed by the very people they have sworn to protect, people who are often ungrateful.
I’m thankful for those who move heaven and earth when the tones go off signifying that tragedy has struck in someone’s life, and folks follow the call to do all they can to make things right.
I’m thankful for those incredible men and women who keep calm and turn off their own emotions while dealing with frightened, angry people on the telephone while getting the callers the help they need.
I’m thankful for those who are in the business of healing, the ones who see pain and suffering and sickness as an enemy to be destroyed.
I’m thankful for teachers who realize the trust they are given every morning, and do their best to fulfill that trust in the face of some pretty scary obstacles.
I’m grateful for a job I love, with people I now consider family, too, and the shared willingness we have to take a big chance in a strange new world where the economy, business and the marketplace are about as fickle as a flower in frost season.
I’m thankful for the little things — the smell and feel of a good horse, the honesty of a donkey, the comfort of cats, the solidity of old dogs, the joy of a crisp fall morning in the woods, or a steamy summer evening by a river. I’m thankful for the crow of a rooster greeting another day, the offended cackle of a hen producing an egg, the feel of a good book, the beauty of the Psalms in a King James Bible and the clarity of the apostles’ instructions in the Holman version.
I’m thankful for quail that rise, bobcats with prime fur, bear steaks on an open fire, doves in the last moments before sunset, big bluefish and catfish on light tackle, the roar of a bull gator at dusk in a swamp that’s almost primordial, the music of the wind in the pines, the secret whispers of a brown water river, and geese honking through the sky on their way home. I’m grateful that I have friends with kids I can watch as they grow and learn new things and just be kids, in a time when many children never seem to have that opportunity.
As my wife called to say she had safely made it to her mom and dad’s, I realized, yet again, how much I have to be thankful for, every single day. I hope you do as well.
Thanksgiving is so much more than just a big meal with a family; I have noted before, some of my favorite Thanksgiving dinners were solitary meals of leftovers deep in the woods. Thanksgiving is more than turkey and dressing and pies and football and fussing.
Thanksgiving should be an attitude, one which we can all carry with us all the time, one which might possibly make us a little bit better than we realize, an attitude that will hopefully help us to be a little bit better to others — thus giving them a reason to be more thankful, too.
Whether Thanksgiving is a big family dinner for you this year, just a few gathered together in socially-distanced safety, or eaten out of a bag on the hood of a truck, I sincerely hope yours will be a blessed and safe one.
Happy Thanksgiving, folks. Please make it a mindset, not just a meal.