Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Being thankful

If you get beyond the turkey and all that sumptuous food, Thanksgiving is a holiday onto itself, unlike any other. Sure, we're comemmorating the pilgrims' arrival and first feast, and Lord knows we should be thankful, as Americans, for the abundance of food most of us enjoy--and not forget those even in our own neighborhoods who are not as fortunate. But Thanksgiving should go beyond that traditional blessing, "God is great,God is good/Let us thank Him for our food/By his hand we must be fed/ Give us Lord our daily bread." Ever since my children were in pre-school we have said that blessing, holding hands. For years, Uncle John would say, "Start 'em off, Jame" and Jamie would lead the blessing. Then, as she grew older, the honor fell to Maddie. This year, we will miss being with the Peckham/Azuma contingent of the family and will think fond thoughts of them as we say the familiar blessing. Jacob insisted on the blessing the other night when Beth and Weldon came to dinner--but then he wouldn't start if off, and I had to do it. We'll see what child does it this year.
I try to be thankful every day because so much good has come my way, but on Thanksgiving it might be good to take an extra moment, each of us, to ponder the blessings in our lives and scorn the troubles. Family and friends are the first on everyone's list, as well they should be. I am so blessed by family--four chldren who all grew up to be fine, contributing citizens, likeable people who do their part in the world, and best of all, who are absolutely crazy about being together as a family. We truly celebrate the togethrness of holidays. And then seven grandchildren, who are growing up with memories of their loud, boisterous aunts, uncles, and cousins (of course their grandmother is calm and quiet at all times). Someone wrote me today that she thought an Alter family get-together must be like a Cecil B. deMille cast call. Well, not quite . . . but close.
And friends? I am blessed with wonderful friends, each of whom fills a special spot in my life. I won't try to start naming, because I'd surely leave someone out. Suffice to say, retirement would be dull and meaningless without the friends who bring shape to my life and give me a sense that I mean something to others, just as they mean a lot to me. I learn from my friends, and I think with their help I grow in wisdom and joy.
But there's so much more. In retirement, I'm grateful for the wonderful and rewarding career that I had (and sort of continue to have) and for the fact that I have so much to occupy my time and interest that I'm busier than ever. I so feared waking up to wonder what I'd do each day, and it has been just the opposite--I wake up and wonder how I'm going to get done all that I want to do. My writing has me engaged, interested, and enthusiastic. And I have my house,  my wonderful garden, my dog and cat, my love of cooking. Truly, my cup runneth over.
Which brings me around to faith. I have dropped out as a churchgoer, which I'm hoping is not permanent. It's just my comfort place right now But I am thankful that if anything it has made me more conscioius of my faith, more anxious to keep in touch with faith and trust than when I attended church regularly and maybe took it forgranted. I am leery of Facebook posts that are openly evangelistic, so I won't go into what I've learned about faith in these last two years--suffice to say I am sure the Lord looks after me and my loved ones, and I try to earn that. We may not be saved by good works, but I think they're important.
So, count your blessings, dismiss your troubles, and put your faith in whatever deity you choose to worship. And most of all, enjoy the moment . . . and the holiday!

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