We have so many reasons to be thankful this year

Published 8:55 am Wednesday, November 22, 2023

School children often learn about that “First Thanksgiving” celebrated by newcomers to the new land by way of simplified and sanitized stories, with the lesson being to be thankful for blessings even amid hardships.

It is important to remember some 400 years ago when the pilgrims who came to America had their first Thanksgiving, their everyday lives were rough and the challenges they faced seemed insurmountable. They dug nine times more graves that first year than huts they built to live in … they didn’t have much material goods.

But they had faith and hope, as well as a resilient spirit. And they set aside a time to give thanks for what they did have.

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That is just what Americans will do on Thursday, as we celebrate the annual Thanksgiving holiday.

Like those first pilgrims, we’ve had a rough year.

Economic challenges; political upheaval; war in the middle east and weather catastrophes. Some of us have lost our jobs; others, our homes; still others have lost loved ones. We have grown weary of some things, wiser in many areas.  But through it all we must remain thankful. For if we pause and take stock, we will see we have much more worthy of thanks:

•  The freedom in America to worship as we wish, whether Christian or atheist, Muslim or Jew. That precious right is even more on our minds since Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked, killed and kidnapped Israeli residents. In the weeks since that attack, we’ve watched as our world grows divided, ignorance and incomplete information drives division on social media, and people in America fear for their lives and their safety because of the religion and their identity;

•  The freedom to speak our minds, even if that leads to the political discourse that wearies us at times. This is more and more obvious on social media and on national programs that purport to be news but are little more than opinionated bombast. We must hold strong to the right to free speech, to protect it and to helping our fellow Americans discern truth from propaganda.

•  The opportunity to build a better life for ourselves and our children. Despite the challenges of the economy in recent years and the ongoing inflation, America is still the land of opportunity, for those willing to work and invest in their future;

•   For our families, friends and loved ones, who remind us of the true treasures in our lives.

•  And for the freedom to “change our stars,” if we are willing.  America is a land of opportunity, founded on the hopes and hard work of those pilgrims three hundred years ago and nurtured on the resilience, the faith and the democracy that has grown.

• So, in spite of it all, we are reminded to give thanks, for we have plenty of blessings in our lives.