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By Forrest Hershberger
View from the Handlebars 

Even in the Storm, Be Thankful


November 24, 2021 | View PDF

We’re now hours from the feast that is designed historically for a time of giving thanks.

Homes will have the designated cooks scurrying around the prep table in the kitchen making sure the turkey is in the oven, and the oven hot, the dressings are cooking, Aunt Betty brought the homemade pies, cousins Steve and Jennifer brought the vegetables and relish plate and the in-laws bring...well, you get the idea.

We can all paint the scenario like a star writer in part because we’ve all lived some version of the scenario. We can talk of the aroma of apple pie cooling on the counter, and glazed turkey roasting in the oven, or on the smoker, because the aroma of develops its own file in our memories. Even the not-so-good scents get their places in our memory.

But how many of us ask how we got to the pristine pictures of tables spread with delectable dining? Call it legend, call it history, call it as you will but the most relied-upon account of Thanksgiving is a feast that followed famine. It was a feast that was a celebration following a time when another sunrise was a blessing. It was a feast because that’s what people do, they celebrate overcoming trials in life.

It does make me wonder how many developed fond memories, call it an odd appetite, for specific foods the ate during those hard times. When all you have in the pantry is potatoes, you eat potatoes. When in the modern pantry all you have is canned soup and boxed macaroni and cheese, you make due, and be thankful.

A “second daughter” of ours recently reminded her network of family and friends of a life lesson of hers. Several years ago, she went out of town with a friend, then got back in the car with the friend intoxicated.

The resulting accident was frightening, and could have been much worse. She and her friend developed a new connection to Thanksgiving and being thankful. Ultimately, the only reason they survived is divine protection.

I remember hearing about it the first time and for a moment feeling my heart stop. It wasn’t that long after losing our own daughter. I, too, became thankful. I was thankful that although there was an accident, no one was seriously injured.

Since then, I have met people locally and in other parts of the world who live a life of thankfulness that could be envied, odd as that might sound. I remember meeting people in Central America who lived in houses most Americans probably wouldn’t claim as a garage or tool shed, and they shared what food they had.

It was the kind of gesture you accept because it was offered from the deepest recesses of the heart.

Before we talk about the religious accuracy of the season, I’ve always found it kind of an interesting series of holidays. First we are thankful for what we have, then we give to those we love. Giving follows a thankful heart... at least that’s the implication.

I’m thankful for the people I’ve met in places I didn’t expect to see, for the seaside lunch and century-plus patio so pristine it almost begged for a Hemingway-like writer to be sitting with an iced tea and a notebook, scanning the horizon for his next book idea. I’m thankful for the people I’ve met who in this political climate I don’t know if I’ll see again. The gracious humility I’ve experienced taught me to value each day, sometimes give without thinking and value even the small gifts.

We are in an awkward point in time, awkward because seldom have elected officials told doctors and health care professionals how to treat their patients; not to the level it becomes political policy. In the mix we find debates about mental health and mental illness.

What if part of the equation is to live a life of thankfulness, even in the storm? What if our health is compromised because we allow details in life to overwhelm us instead of being grateful for what we have?

Oddly enough, the simple things in life can be the most difficult. Most of us have factor that leads to a “just one more” attitude. In exchange, we can be so driven we lose the enjoyment in life. We let go of the walks in the park, the social coffees with a friend or a simple phone call.

We have become so busy worrying about the water around the boat we overlook how little is in it.

In all things, be thankful, even when you feel you have little.


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