Most of us know the history surrounding the day we call Thanksgiving Day. It began in 1620 although a declared national holiday was much later in arriving. We are a nation of plenty, but there are still people who have little. We, in many cases, back away from our personal feast tables of Thanksgiving having eaten so much that we fear we’ll be ill, while others wish there were more churches and other community organizations that offered food to the homeless and downtrodden.
Our country is the envy of many across the world, at least of those who know the story of our country and who haven’t endured the ‘brainwashing’ and ‘torture’ tactics of emperors and dictators.
But, we give thanks not for things so much as we give thanks for the opportunities with which we have been blessed as citizens of what we believe is the greatest country in the world. We know people who rose from very meager beginnings to become very successful in one way or another…since success means different things to different people.
We are so successful as a country that we may not even understand what success means for others who are far less fortunate. We were fortunate to be born in or admitted entry to the land of plenty as many other people view our country. We, for the most part, take that for granted since we’ve not known anything different.
While the word ‘plenty’ typically refers to things and wealth of one form or another, we have plenty in another sense of that term. We have freedom and we take that for granted. We have schools and colleges and universities and we take that for granted. We have the freedom to say what we want to say, for the most part, and to be able to do that without fear of recrimination. We can be very different from others if that is our upbringing or our personal desire and not be fearful of being harassed or worse, although there are those who would lay the lie to that statement.
We enjoy, for the most part, our representative form of government. We can extol its virtue without being forced to do so, and we can voice our complaints without fear of having done so. We go through regular changes in people who we desire to have as members of our governing body, and we do so without armed soldiers in the streets. We are so accustomed to freedom that many of us ignore the opportunities that freedom gives us to participate in selecting our leaders. My local community, by the way, had an 89% turn-out in our most recent elections with which I was greatly amazed and very pleased to hear. I was reminded of those people who emerged from the experience of being able to vote for the first time and who showed their purple-inked finger-tip signifying they had cast their ballot.
We have so very much for which to be thankful and we are so accustomed to having had those things that we too often forget to say thank you. We simply expect those things will always be available and that there will be even more good things in our futures. We live in a truly wonderful country. We are richly blessed. We have the right to vote. We can work at whatever we wish so long as we are capable of doing the task. We can drive to anyplace in the country without needing the permission of authorities. We can even own personal weapons and, in many states, we can carry them concealed or openly if we choose.
With so much freedom comes heavy responsibility. Some of us seem not to be ready for that responsibility, and yet we can continue to live in this great land. Some of us always seem to think we ‘need’ more when we already have plenty. But, we can work and obtain the ‘more’ we think we need even if we don’t need it.
I have the freedom to write essentially whatever I choose to write so long as it is within the bounds of decency (some even write things outside the bounds of decency and remain free to do so). I can applaud or decry my leaders. I can be of whatever religious faith I choose to be. I can work for or against any movement so long as it is within our system of laws.
I give thanks, today and almost every day, for these gifts and for the food I consume and the clothes I wear and the vehicle I drive and the church I attend and the faith I practice and the doctors I am able to visit.
Every day ought to be Thanksgiving Day for almost every one of us. True, there are days and times when thankfulness escapes us given the weight on our shoulders, but we can still be thankful that we have hope, and that we are, for the most part, able to effect positive change in our lives.