Thanksgiving. It is that special time of year when, since the early days of this nation, people have given thanks for the harvests that would feed them through the non-productive winter months. Of course, it was not official until Sara Hale, editor of “Godey”s Ladies Book,” persuaded President Abraham Lincoln to declare and designate a national Thanksgiving Day.
We are not quite such an agrarian society today, although we do have a lot more people to feed. Maybe that is more reason for most of us to be grateful for the very basics of life — food, clothing and shelter — while being aware that in these difficult times some of our neighbors must do without those basics. Americans have always been generous. I hope and believe that those who can will find their own ways to help those who need it, especially during this holiday season. It really is a blessing to give.
In fact, we enjoy many blessings we rarely think about. I sometimes find it pleasant just to list them in my mind.
Several years ago I decided to try to think of five different things to be thankful for each day. After a while you start naming the oddest things, but doing so does make you think. There are the basics, mentioned earlier, then the ones most precious — health, family, friends, and those special memories that make you smile. There are also some of those off-beat things that probably do not get mentioned often.
Color us thankful
I am thankful for color. How can you not be aware of color during beautiful autumn days when nature paints a landscape with broad strokes of russet, gold and crimson? Even the grays of winter make a muted background for the color splashes of the holidays.
Some of my artist friends abhor beige, but I think it is not only versatile, but soothing. It is welcoming to other colors, too — dark saturated shades, gentle pastels or exclamatory brights. Everyone, I think, likes beautiful sunsets, cool tints of water or misty mountains. There is always the elusive white beauty of snow.
Most people have their favorite sounds, especially music, be it pop, love ballads, country humor or pounding concertos. Although some sophisticates claim Rachmaninoff appeals to adolescents, his Second Concerto can just about transport me to heaven.
Well, we might as well go on with the other senses, too. We get feedback from touch, a friendly handshake or a hug from a dear friend. I hear some psychologists say you need a minimum of 11 hugs a day to be in optimal mental health. Few prescriptions are that pleasant to fill. There is nothing living that is as soft and smooth as a baby”s skin or its fine, silky hair. Our dogs like to have their ears scratched. Cats purr when they are stroked.
One of the five senses many people are thinking about this week is the taste of those delicious Thanksgiving dinners. That includes all the tempting aromas as well. Every person really alive has most of these rudimentary faculties.
We have not even mentioned other blessings yet. We are really just getting started. Just being alive offers us a plethora of things for which we can be thankful. Expressing that thanks gives us even more joy. I mean, the act in itself is a blessing.
Want to have a blast during the coming holiday season? Cover the hectic chores that are part of these days with the prevailing sense of gratitude for the gifts we have. Do not waste a precious minute fretting about all the things we might not possess. Whatever our circumstances, thanksgiving makes them better.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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