When I was young, Thanksgiving meant food and football. Now that am old, I am finding many other reasons to be thankful. I am, of course, thankful for the love and genes my parents gave me, for my wonderful sons and their families, for my invaluable and much loved friends. Oh yes, and for Mercury the Wonder Cat
I have been asking my friends from outside, and those who live, as I do, in the Commons, "What are you thankful for?" The answers are as fascinating as they are different. The "young" ones tend to be philosophical. The "old" ones are practical and down to basics.
In the younger group, one is thankful that she has learned through various volunteer service jobs, most recently in Mississippi, about the interdependence of people. We tend to forget that people are basically kind. Another is thankful that she has had a job she liked for so many years and has grown so much in it. One is thankful that she had a critical illness and can still run and bike and think. Another is glad that she woke up one day to realize that there are so very many things to be thankful for. She says she is thankful for gratitude. Another says she is thankful she can still create beautiful music. One man said, "I'm thankful I have the wherewithall to pay my taxes and realize the tremendous beefits I receive from them."
Idealistic? Yes. But they're still young.
It is quite different, of course where I live in an Assisted Living facility. I don't know the average age, but most of us range from 80 to 106. Many are living with serious physical problems, but most are coping graciously One woman laughed and said, "I'm thankful I just had lunch with my son -- but oh, that's not all of it." Another said, "Oh, I am thankful for so many things. I am still here and I can still laugh." A man who is fighting cancer said "I am thankful I am still here, having a good time with my friends. It's the best place in the world for me." One woman, standing beside her husband of 59 years laughed and said, "I'm thankful for him." And this one really gets down to basics: "I am thankful for a loving husband of 49 years; 5 great children and their offspring; more friends than I can count; 69 years of good health; 3 1/2 years of legs on wheels"
One man told me what he wants on his tombstone, "He done his damndest."
Maybe that sums it up. By the time we reach our age we have seen life come and go. We have learned what's important and what isn't.
I am thankful for having lived through most of the 20th century. It was surely one of the most exciting in history. Two major wars, one major depresion, a nearly unbelievable explosion of technical wonders and medical progress. I'm thankful that I still think most of it is funny, and I am especially hankful that a President can serve only dtwo terms.
For all Thanksgiving day's varied history, the idea of thanks does not change. We are still thankful for our lives and our families and our freedom. Let's be grateful for gratitude.