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It is right to give our thanks and praise | Chuck's World


Last updated 11/26/2019 at 10:32am

In my personal arsenal of useful emotional states, gratitude is the clear winner. I’m all for feeling happy or hopeful, although you can’t count on those.

But gratitude is always available, an affirmation that there is goodness in this life if we know where to look. Being grateful is a reminder that we’re not in this alone, an awareness that we all need a little intercession in our lives to grease the gears.

We know this. Wander through a bookstore and you’ll find dozens of gratitude journals, essays on the art of saying thank you, self-help manuals and lots of woo-woo nonsense. Feel free to ask an employee for guidance. Don’t forget to say thanks.

We need the nudge, though, which is why we have this week every November, the worst possible month for everyone. The trees have surrendered their foliage, the rain has returned, there’s always an election somewhere about something serious, the sun goes on vacation, and we’re a month away from staring down the first day of winter.

If any month needed a holiday, it would be November, so I suppose we can start off by being grateful for Thanksgiving. Who needs a special day of thankfulness in July? It would feel stupid.

We don’t make it easy on ourselves, either. Thanksgiving has become a traditional excuse to gather with family around the communal table, and a reminder of why we don’t do this more often. They say we can’t pick our relatives; what they don’t mention is that we wouldn’t want to, not in a million years. We love them to pieces, which has nothing to do with tolerating their idiotic political opinions or that thing they do with perfectly fine green beans, so Thanksgiving is an exercise in situational ethics.

I haven’t spent a Thanksgiving with relatives in years, actually. I’ll just be grateful for the rest of you.

I’ll also be grateful for football, or at least the Seattle Seahawks and their version of it. The Hawks have now won 9 out of 11 games, and I can find no reason why this should be so. This alone is enough to make me thankful, but there’s more.

I’m grateful that this November, typically our stormiest month, has been relatively placid and even sunny. I don’t mind weather, not usually, although I do mind replacing my roof and I’ve had some concerns, so thanks for that.

I’m grateful for “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” and “Home For The Holidays,” two Thanksgiving films that always make me laugh at the absurdity of tradition and how necessary it is at the same time.

I’m grateful for the episode of “Friends” when Joey gets the turkey stuck on his head, the episode of “Northern Exposure” when all the native people throw tomatoes at all the white people, and the episode of “The West Wing” when President Bartlet calls the Butterball hotline.

I’m grateful for Stephen Colbert, Lily Tomlin, Katie Couric, Marc Maron, and Meryl Streep, just to name five and just because.

I’m grateful that Fred Rogers was around long enough to influence my children, and that Tom Hanks is around to remind us of Fred.

I’m grateful for people who make me laugh, people who make me think, and people who make me read what they write.

I’m grateful for certain people who make me get a haircut.

I’m grateful for the kindness of strangers, for the generosity of those with very little of their own, and for dogs. All dogs.

Is it necessary to say something about coffee? I feel like I should.

I’m grateful for first responders, small businesses, city councils, social workers, and science in general.

I firmly believe there’s already a special place in the afterlife for librarians and nurses, but I’ll be grateful anyway.

I’m grateful for my family, with whom, in all honesty, I’d gladly share a meal at any time, just name the place. And I’m thankful for friends who fill in those gaps, who enrich my life by sharing my joys and concerns as well as my Thanksgiving dinner.

And as odd as it feels in our current climate, I’m awfully grateful for democracy.

I watched some of the impeachment hearings over the past couple of weeks. It’s not the worst way to prepare to be thankful, to be honest.

I’m being sincere, not snarky, and I’ve always felt this way. I’ve never felt as much affection for my country and our system of self-government as when things get messy, and I’ve seen my share of messes. From a childhood of endless Special Bulletins, as political figures were picked off by snipers and bodies were constantly returning from Southeast Asia, to an adolescence spent watching the Watergate hearings, I grew up with the messes and saw the results.

America is hard to do, and still we keep doing it. Our system is inequitable and often corrupt, and it still seems to work. I watched those hearings and saw the best and worst of this republic on display, able to dwell in pessimism about the present and still stay optimistic about the future. It could be just me. I’ll still be grateful for this on Thursday.

I’ll be grateful for you, too, at least for reading this far. This Thanksgiving, from my household to yours, I wish you abundant gratitude, community, comfort, and peace.

And maybe some pie. I should have mentioned pie before.


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