Waking up, and other things for which to be thankful
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, November 27, 2014


“If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.”
— Meister Eckhart

Thanksgiving Day gives us a chance to catch up on the thanks we could be giving every hour, every day, if we had the time to focus on it. I can understand why some nuns enter a cloister in order to avoid distractions as they pray.

“Thank you” makes a nice wake-up prayer at least, especially for those of us at an age that might not, necessarily, wake up. Reminds me of another prayer from my childhood: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” I liked the rhythm of it but had to wonder ... “If I should DIE?” before I WAKE? Where’s my teddy bear?” I didn’t use that prayer with my son.

Then there was “grace” at the dining room table:

“BlessusohLordandtheseThygiftswhichweareaboutreceivefromThybountythroughChristourLordAmen.” Followed immediately by “pass the potatoes, please.” Despite the haste to get to the meal, we did pick up the habit of being grateful for our food. Hopefully, that habit still kicks in, if only subconsciously, as we drive through the take-out lane.

We must remember the Native Americans who shared the first Thanksgiving feast with the first immigrants. This prayer is based on their poetry. I think I took it from a Christmas card for my quote book: “Let the eagles soar and the deer leap with delight. Let the people hold a ceremonial dance and celebrate the goodness that Your presence brings this earth.”

Let’s be thankful that Massasoit and Squanto, while helping the Plymouth settlers get started with food production, didn’t put our nation’s founders on a welfare system and make them dependent. America would be a very different place. For the same reason, I’m thankful that the Pilgrims gave up their early attempt at communitarianism and passed on a tradition of property ownership, with hard work being rewarded.

I wish that, moving forward, there had been a way to share the country with the Native Americans, or at least that America had kept its treaty agreements.

Despite that sorry mark on our history, we know why so many people have wanted and still want to come here: Our Founding Fathers deliberately created something better than the 18th-century country they themselves came from and the European countries with which it often went to war. It’s safe to say said Founders wouldn’t approve of our allowing the Islamic culture that is causing problems in Europe today to influence the American way of life.

Of course, when they told us to grow our own healthy country and stay out of foreign wars, we were protected by two oceans from being impacted by the evil that grows abroad.

I am so thankful that I’m not a woman in a Muslim country. Also glad I don’t live in a community with people who think looting a liquor store is proper use of our constitutional “freedom of assembly.”

I’m thankful I don’t live in Buffalo. My recent column referencing “climate change,” in which I mentioned that Great Lakes region’s winters aren’t as bad as they were when I grew up there, ran just days before 7 feet of snow fell on Buffalo.

World history being what it is, we do well to focus our thanks on what we can control; The 2014 election is giving us another chance to have a country and commonwealth for which to be thankful. And then there are the small things.

In Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” Emily, who died young in childbirth, looks back on her short life and lists the things she misses: ...”clocks ticking ... and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths ... and sleeping and waking up.”

I’m thankful for the quiet, non-ticking alarm clock in my smartphone. I haven’t worn an ironed dress, or even a dress, in years. But we get the point. For me, it’s the kitchen clock with birdsong on the hour, my lilacs and diaschia, neighborhood sunflowers; certainly food and coffee, hot showers, sleeping on my Tempur-pedic mattress, and yet waking up to be thankful for another day.

I’m thankful that I don’t have the urge to travel for holidays. Much happier just thinking about my son, his wife and the twins driving from Nevada to connect in Oregon with his two half-brothers who live in other western states; they found an inn where they can share Thanksgiving dinner. I’m grateful for the Weather Channel so I know if/when to worry about their traveling.

I’m really glad that my teenage grandson can make the trip after his most recent visit to the emergency room. I guess I’m grateful for the modern technology that gave me the video of his daring trail-bike ride over a backyard ramp that he and his friends built. As his twin sister told Grumpaw, “I knew this wouldn’t end well.” Aidan landed on his neck, but without breaking it. When I asked, knowing I should, about his beloved bike, he said it wasn’t damaged because it landed on his face — which explains the bruised face, texted from the hospital.

Never mind. The important thing is not what we worry about, it’s what we appreciate. My final Thanksgiving quote, from Rupert Brook:

“White plates and cups, clean-gleaming ... the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon smooth away trouble, and the rough male kiss of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is shiny and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen unpassioned beauty of a great machine ...”

Feel free to add your own favorite things here as we all say the “thank you” prayer today.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle-Tribune newspapers.

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