November 17, 2012 6:45:26 PM
This week we are making lists of all the things for which we are thankful. Most of us will include friends, family and possibly a few material items, as well.
On my list is our exquisite autumn. This year, the foliage is especially vibrant, saturated with hues of burgundys and golds and rusts. In late afternoon, the trees reach high into the sky, each leaf illuminated, as if trying to grasp every tiny ray of the fading light. They seem to know that winter draws near and their branches will soon be naked and cold. A few evergreens grow in contrast to trees the color of burning barns. In the mornings, my car is splashed with leaves that looked like tongues of flame. Of course, it is time to start raking and bagging those leaves. So the pleasure is short-lived.
As children, we were taught that the pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving as early as 1621, after a successful harvest. Supposedly, much of that bounty was corn. Squanto, a Native American, gets the credit for teaching the new residents how to cultivate and grow this crop. Then, they were extremely grateful. However, these days almost everything we eat is infused with high fructose corn syrup, now blamed for our obesity problem.
Squanto also showed these Europeans how to catch eel. Do we know anyone who eats eel today? Some gifts just do not endure the test of time. Maybe this is why we do not pay homage to Squanto and take a day off on his birthday. But thanks, Squanto, just the same.
I (among others, to be sure) am grateful that Mississippi is still part of the United States. Secession has always been one of those back-of-the-mind sort of options (sort of like joining the circus or writing in "Mickey Mouse" on a ballot). We consider it, but never really seriously. When I was a child (oh, so recently), "The South Shall Rise Again" was not an uncommon slogan. To this idea I say, "No thanks."
My husband says I should be thankful that we haven't had a cross burned on our lawn ... yet. My liberal views (well, liberal for the Golden Triangle area, anyway) often get me in trouble.
I still have a few readers, like Larry Feeney. Chris and I ran into him, along with daughter, Katherine, and granddaughter, Molly Grace, at Farmstead Restaurant a few days ago.
"I read your column, Adele," he told me. "You have a way of jabbing at some people around here, but not too much." Oh, Larry, be thankful that I pull back. You and your family live close enough to me to feel threatened when the townspeople eventually storm my house with torches and pitchforks.
Next Thursday is this country's special day to give thanks. That, I believe, is just a dress rehearsal for the big day next month. At Christmas we may receive some gifts that require us to muster up an enthusiastic response of gratitude for the really unexpected, possibly inexplicable, gifts. Just practice saying, "Oh, how lovely. Many thanks for the, um, present." Remember, use the word "present" or "gift" when you just cannot figure out what it is.
I am grateful for my readers and to Mother Nature, who gave us this wonderful autumn. But, maybe not so much to Squanto and the secessionists. Have a wonderful Turkey Day, even if you are a vegan!
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.