November 24, 2017

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Thank God for Thanksgiving, which reminds us to be grateful

Cynthia DewesIt’s that time again when Americans gather to thank God for their blessings. Even atheists give thanks—even if they aren’t sure who to thank. Luckily, the Pilgrims knew that they should thank God, and we continued to do so up until Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday, and beyond.

Most of us are thankful for the same things, such as having a job and enough to eat. Some can be thankful for children who behave and who know what to do in school. And some can be grateful for good health, a happy marriage, or lots of friends. In any case, most of us are thankful for something or other.

Of course I am thankful for these things, but there are many more that I try to itemize every year. For one, I’m thankful that I lived in a time when I could be proud of my country. As a second-generation American, I understood and valued the joy and opportunities offered to people from other countries. We took immigration seriously, and approved the idea that America is a melting pot of races, cultures and ideas. And we felt a responsibility to help maintain these values.

Another thing I am grateful for is that most of my life was free from worrying about political correctness. Naturally, I did not approve of racism or sexism or abuse of anyone in any form, but I didn’t have to worry that an innocent word or action would be criticized or even criminalized. I was surprised when common sense was routinely eclipsed by fear of the latest trend.

All my life I’ve been grateful for the opportunities for travel that I had. The first was in high school when my baby-sitting employer took me along to help with her children on a trip to Connecticut. We flew from Minnesota on a Stratocruiser, which was so huge it was like riding a bus. On the way there, we stopped over in New York City and my employer took me to see the sights, including the roof of the Rockefeller Center building and the Central Park Zoo.

In later years, I was fortunate to travel with my husband and friends, sometimes on inexpensive tours and later to visit our daughter in Germany. When our kids were young, we traveled all over the U.S. on our two-week summer vacation, visiting natural and historic sites by day and camping out at night. We never believed that we had to be wealthy in order to go somewhere new.

Another of the top 100 on my thankful list is humor. I think almost everything has a funny side. This is very American, too. Consider homemade artifacts on people’s front lawns, like the homemade tin man sitting in front of a house, or the cheerful pot of plastic flowers decorating the porch of a rundown shack on a back street. Or how about those huge, floppy plastic critters waving their arms in front of car dealerships or grocery stores, urging customers to appear.

Thank God for funny people, too. People who amuse me almost every day range from the subtle remark wielders to the actual joke tellers to the impressionists who make us laugh with hilarious versions of Donald Trump or Donald Duck. Whatever their schtick, their humor certainly is divinely inspired, since only God could come up with some of this stuff.

So, on this Thanksgiving Day as on every day, I thank God.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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