It is with great trepidation that I venture to write about Thanksgiving, which will be upon us in just a few days.
The trepidation comes from two sources.
First, is that all who read this are not in the same situation currently. Some are moving toward a family gathering in a safe, warm home and entitled to experience a very wonderful time (unless there is a bit too much to drink and family issues erupt and cause that external scene to deteriorate badly). Others are outside of comfort and joy or missing some of the sweet family this season, and any holiday seems to cruelly remind them of the loss.
Second, the trepidation comes from the knowledge that of all the sins for which I deserve judgment, the greatest (I believe) is that I take my life and my loved ones for granted. I took walking for granted until I pulled my Achilles tendon. I took sleeping for granted until I caught a cold and had to choose between sleeping and breathing. I thought, “Well, I really could use the sleep. But if I fall asleep I won’t breath and that’s bad, too.”
As Joni Mitchell sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
Years ago I went to a nursing home to visit my grandmother. While there I saw my junior high English teacher walking by. I said hello. She stopped and smiled and then asked about my brother and sister and my mom and dad. I told her that we all were well and enjoying life. Then, in a manner to teach me to appreciate that fact, she softly said, “It won’t always be like that.” I later found out that she was visiting her dying husband and was hurting.
But I knew then that I had taken my family for granted. Her five words were powerful and caused me to stop and reflect that the Thanksgiving gathering we would have was not something to take for granted.
This season, my father is in a home and unable to move. He’s often not conscious or, if conscious, not coherent. Then I had a recollection of him healthy and vibrant and remembered how he would entertain us kids with physical antics that we found so funny. That was the person who is now confined to his physical prison.
The recent typhoon horror from the Philippines brings the simple pleasures in life to the forefront and makes rather puny my current concerns.
In the history of the world, I believe that we live at a very blessed time and place. One of my earlier columns complained about having trouble connecting my new LCD television to my stereo. That is a very small irritation compared to the issues faced by those in the Philippines and the issues faced by our ancestors.
So this Thanksgiving, I would raise a toast to our predecessors: ancestors, parents, grandparents and all whose love has gone before. Those who struggled to start a fire on the plains of Germany, cried as the “common cold” took the life of a wee one on the highlands of Scotland, fought to hold their families together in Africa and then here, thought their fingers would break off in the cold plains of Eastern Europe, and fought for daily survival all over the world and never in their wildest dreams envisioned that their efforts would someday result in their children’s children’s children’s children gathering together in a blessed, warm home such as this.
But I know that they are happy when we stop fighting or disagreeing or wasting life’s most precious moments and realize that in all of history, no people were ever happier or had more reason to celebrate God’s love that we do here today.
I thank our ancestors for their efforts to stay alive. Thank you for knowing that children are sacred. And know that you are welcome here today. So please. All. Lift your glasses and rejoice, for we are with you and you with us and God with all of us.
Fear only that which separates us from God’s love. But then again there is nothing to fear, “(for) I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).
If you are fortunate enough to have a home, a turkey, a family and laughter, then stop and reflect that it won’t always be like this, and say that which my father would say at times like that.
He said, “Look around. It doesn’t get any better than right here and now.”
Scott Candoo, a Tacoma attorney, is one of five reader columnists whose work appears on these pages. He and his wife, Susan, live in the North End. Email him at Scottc51@nventure.com.