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THIS AND THAT: Let’s not forget to give thanks on Thursday

November 17, 2018

Thanksgiving (noun) – a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness; the act of giving thanks; a prayer expressing gratitude. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Thanksgiving Day is Thursday, a time when thoughts turn to pumpkin pies, turkey, stuffing and gravy.

Family and friends will gather around tables to fill their tummies with perhaps the biggest meal of the year.

Parades will fill TV screens with lovely sights – floats, bands, giant balloons in the shape of fictional characters, and of course, Santa. Shouts of triumph or gasps of defeat will be heard during football games.

Some will use next Thursday as the starting blocks for a mad race to Christmas, and with an early Thanksgiving there will be extra days this year to fill every stocking.

But what about the thanksgiving part of the day? How much time do we spend publicly acknowledging and celebrating divine goodness? What part of the day is spent giving thanks? And how about that prayer expressing gratitude?

Often, unfortunately, we fall woefully short on those aspects of Thanksgiving Day. We are sure that all the food is prepared and ready to serve on time. We wouldn’t think of having the TV on the blink for the big day. Many of us have already outlined our shopping routes for Black Friday’s sales – some of which begin on Thursday.

But do we leave time to give thanks on the day set aside specifically for that? Sometimes a hurried table blessing is all that we give. Sometimes not even that. This year I want to make sure to put the thanks back in Thanksgiving.

To that end, here is a list of some of the many things for which I am thankful.

1. FAMILY. Without wife, daughters, grandchildren, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, life would be lonely. These folks provide love and give purpose to life. They link today with all of my yesterdays and provide hope for the future.

2. FRIENDS. These are my family by choice. With blood relations we have no say over who is included. With the family of friends, we get to select. From Friday BBQ crew to Wednesday breakfast guys to USCA colleagues and many more, these are people I choose to be with and enjoy.

3. CHURCH. Like others, I belong to a community of faith. We are not saints, but sinners struggling to achieve an unattainable goal in emulating Jesus. We fail daily but continue the pursuit throughout life, and hopefully we make a positive difference in the world.

4. AIKEN. There’s no place like home, and this is the place I have hung my hat for more than 90 percent of my life. History and beauty have their place, but the people of this city make it truly special.

5. THIS NEWSPAPER. The First Amendment has always been big in my life providing the people of this country with freedom of the press. While disparaging remarks are often made about the press, the Aiken Standard and other newspapers in America are sources of news, especially local news, that is unavailable elsewhere. Cries of “fake news” are called out too often in the toxic political landscape of today, yet if there were no newspapers, how would we know what is going on within our communities?

6. GOLF. Here we are jumping from my soap box to the tee box. I find golf a sporting metaphor of life. On the course I can look so good on one hole and so miserable on the next. One shot can be 230 yards down the middle and the next shanked into the woods. Golf teaches humility. And there are occasions when a shot in the rough from 175 yards away hits the flagstick. Golf teaches hope. Humility and hope are two important tools to carry in one’s bag of life.

7. GOOD HEALTH. When we have it, we usually take it for granted. When we don’t have it, we want it back again. Most have been on both sides of the health coin seeing times of good and bad health. When good health is ours, we need to always give thanks.

8. DOGS. If you have pet dogs, you are probably wondering why this was not higher on the list. Dogs are grateful for their people. They greet us at the door with an eagerness we don’t see anywhere else. Lying beside the bed next to her favorite person, a dog finds complete contentment. Dogs don’t ask for much. A little food, some water, a place outside to stretch their legs and a scratch behind the ears along with a few kind words is all it takes to make Fido a loyal friend for life.

9. AMERICA. I am thankful to live in the most amazing country ever. This nation provides her people with opportunities unequaled anywhere else in the world. In spite of the current political divide, there is nowhere else on earth I would rather live.

10. YOU. Each week I put down thoughts on a variety of topics on this page. And each week I am amazed with the comments from people I see in the community. You don’t always realize the impact of a kind word or a corrective word when you speak them, but they make a difference.

This is my public prayer of thanksgiving. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

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