The other night I was sitting in my recliner, doing a crossword puzzle, while watching the news. I do this most every night before I go to bed. For some reason filling in the little squares on the puzzle with letters relaxes me and helps me to sleep. The news was showing clips of the horror going on in Israel and Palestine. People running from their homes to avoid mortars directed towards them. Children, bloody and scared, running down the streets after their schools had been bombed. I couldn’t help but think how very blessed I am.
We all think of our blessings this time of year. We give thanks by getting together with our family or friends, eating turkey, watching football, or just generally having a good time. But do any of us in this country really understand how blessed we are?
I was thankful that night for being able to sit in a comfortable chair, in my own home, while hearing nothing outside except for the occasional dog barking or car door slamming. I didn’t have to listen out for air raid sirens, bombs exploding, or people screaming in pain. It was just me, and my furry family, relaxing in front of the TV until it was time to get into a safe bed in a warm house that is filled with the things I cherish.
I was thankful Sunday when I went to Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. I walked through the door, genuflected towards the altar, kneeled, and looked up at the cross above the altar while I said my prayer. At no time did I have to keep looking over my shoulder to see if someone was coming in, armed, wanting to end my life simply because they disagreed with my faith. I looked around at all the familiar faces of my Church family and was thankful they were there, saying their own prayers, unafraid and uninhibited. Our priest blessed us at the end of the service and I felt a little guilty because I already have so many blessings.
I’m also thankful that the presidential elections are over. I was tired of the negative commercials, promises made that can’t be kept, and ugly remarks between groups who disagreed on who the best man was for the job. I lost a lot of respect for a few people on my Facebook page because of remarks they made. But, they are still my friends because they have the right to express their opinions even if I don’t agree with them. I watched the elections and saw people going into their polling place, casting their votes, and voicing their opinions on who they voted for. There were no armed men around the polling places reminding them to vote for their candidate, no riots, and no intimidation towards anyone who was voting. You won’t see this in other countries and it made me proud to be an American.
I saw a news report where wounded veterans were killed after their parade float was struck by a train. It made me cry and I couldn’t help but notice how many others were also in tears. I’m thankful to live in a country where we openly share our grief. Where we feel sadness and compassion towards others even if we’ve never met them. I’m thankful that I can stand up at a football game, put my hand over my heart, and hear our National Anthem. I’m thankful for those that fight to keep our freedom and defend our rights and privileges as Americans.
I’m also thankful for my family. My children are grown now but they are happy, healthy, intelligent individuals who show compassion for others. They are willing to offer a helping hand to those in need. They work hard at jobs they love and appreciate the things they have. Just thinking of them makes me happy and I’m thankful I have them in my life. I’m thankful for my parents. I lost my mother a little over a year and a half ago but I’m thankful I have the memories she left with me. I can still see her smile, hear her voice, and I remember all the wonderful things she did for me when I was growing up. I’m thankful my father is healthy and is always there for me when I need him. I’m thankful for his hard work in the military when I was growing up and proud that he defended our country in Viet Nam. He always provided a home for us and my brother and I never wanted for anything.
I am also thankful for the family that is no longer with us. My Uncle Dick who always made me laugh, my Grandpa Johnson who would sit for hours while I played ‘Beauty Shop’ combing and teasing his hair. My Aunt Belle who was a true southern lady with a soft voice that never spoke an unkind word about anyone. My Aunt Mildred who was feisty and independent but always let you know you were loved. My Aunt Edna who was the most independent of them all. She was always thinking of others and loved to play with us when we were young. She was always willing to listen after we got older and she never hesitated to express her opinion. My Uncle John who once took me, my mom, and my Aunt Evelyn to the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC and then refused to go in because he thought the admission price was too high. He told the ticket taker he just wanted to look at the place, not buy it! I remember the beautiful wood work he did even though he was crippled with arthritis. He never let it get him down and never showed others how much pain he was in even though I’m sure at times it was unbearable. My Uncle Mac who would always pinch my cheek when he saw me. He loved to laugh and talk. My Maw Maw Ruby. She always gave the best Christmas presents because she would put a lot of thought into them. She always had a box of thin mints on her coffee table and never said anything when I ate all of them. That same coffee table is now in my living room. My Grandpa West, who was one of the most thoughtful and hardworking men you would ever meet. He loved his family and didn’t mind showing it. My Aunt Betty and Uncle George whose house was our home away from home when we were traveling from base to base. And so many other friends and family who have left. I’m thankful for each memory they gave me.
I’m also thankful for my friends and those of you who will read this. I hope your home is full of family, friends, and food this Thanksgiving. May your blessings be many and your sorrows be few. Happy Thanksgiving.