Thanksgiving has always been my favorite celebration. In our family, it has always meant getting together and sharing a feast prepared by many hands. If we were overseas or too far away from our immediate family, then friends and neighbors similarly situated came together as one big family to give thanks for our many blessings.
One of our annual traditions shared by many other families is to take the time to go around the table and say what we were thankful for. When our kids and their cousins were small, this tradition always produced some interesting, and sometimes even comical, responses. As they moved toward adulthood, their responses warmed our hearts, as their comments revealed what wonderful, thoughtful, and caring young people they were.
My list for 2006 is long and if delivered before dinner we would end up eating cold turkey. So when we gather around the table, I’ll share of couple of the items off my list and refer everyone to this column that will appear after Thanksgiving.
First and foremost, I’m thankful for family — my wife, my kids, and all my other family members. I am especially thankful because my son and his wife have given us two grandkids and they came to Chapel Hill to spend Thanksgiving with us this year. Those of you with grandkids understand what I mean when I say it’s great to have the kids back for the holiday, but it’s really, really great to have the grandkids!
Sure, they will probably make a mess, spill things and at times get fussy, but when it’s your grandkids, who cares. Kids just don’t get it. They constantly try to point out your inconsistent and changing standards: “If I had done that, you would have murdered me!” they whine. Why can’t they understand that we didn’t murder them because we wanted them to give us grandkids one day?
Good health is another reason to be thankful. As we watch the health of our elder generation decline, we pay more attention to the preventative measures that we can take. Even though we are not always successful and don’t always eat right or get enough exercise, it’s not because we don’t understand the importance of living right. I’m also thankful that we live in a place with such excellent health care facilities and so many caring health professionals. Thankfully, I have not had to call upon their skills this year except for the routine preventative visits.
I’m also thankful for our friends, our church family, our neighbors, and all of the people who help to make our community the special place that it is. We have so many who practice random acts of kindness! What’s so impressive about this place is that when you need help, there are people who are willing to provide it. When you identify a problem to be solved, there are people who will come together enthusiastically to craft a solution, then give their time, talents and resources to solve it.
Recently, there have been ample examples of the giving nature of our community. RSVVP last week is a great illustration and shows loads of generosity. I’m personally familiar with some other endeavors and greatly admire what the people involved do. For example, both Habitat for Humanity of Orange County and EmPOWERment, Inc. are doing fund drives. People give their money, time, and goods and services to help increase the stock of affordable homes. Other organizations also work to solve this problem, and one day we might really eradicate it here.
The Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation recently held a house party featuring celebrated author John Grisham. Their goal was to raise funds to purchase new books for our library. We as a community have a voracious appetite for reading material and we can’t wait until the addition to the building is completed to feed that appetite. The Town budget is already stretched, so the Foundation stepped in and purchased additional shelving; now we must raise the funds to buy the books to fill them.
We are also blessed to have those who serve us in elected office, first-rate professionals working for our various government bodies and the schools in our community, a university that does so much in and for this community, a giving business community and a chamber of commerce that represents their interests, and the list goes on.
We thankfully live in a blessed community and one that is “opinion-gifted”. We can and do disagree a lot, and yet, we reach compromises. I’m thankful that this is possible and that we have the freedom to express ourselves.
Family, friends, health and living in such a giving and caring community make me very thankful. Being thankful, that’s a good thing.