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There’s much to be thankful for this year…count your blessings

When we read the newspaper or watch the news on television, it seems the world is in turmoil, and it is. COVID-19 is everywhere. No community is immune. In Carter County, we have had 50 deaths from the virus and many have been sickened by it. The Gulf Coast has been battered by storm after storm. Many have lost their homes and all they had in the storms. California and much of the west — Oregon and Washington — have suffered through wildfires, which have burned thousands and thousands of acres, including whole communities. The homes of many families were immolated, their possessions charred to cinders.
It’s been a summer and fall of turmoil as thousands took to the streets across America to protest and riot over police shootings of black lives. There was much violence in the nation’s larger cities.
It would be easy to say there’s nothing to be thankful for. But, there’s much to be thankful for today, tomorrow, and the days that will follow because, well, gaze at the faces around your Thanksgiving table.
Thursday is Thanksgiving Day — a day in which Americans pause to tally their blessings.
It’s a day to focus on blessings — health, family, friends, or it can be a day to nurse your grudges and ruminate on your woes. Like, every other day, that’s up to you. Our purpose here is not to tell you how thankful you should or shouldn’t be, but to extol the benefits of taking a long-lens perspective on Thanksgiving and gratitude.
Remember, this national holiday started in 1863, as the Civil War raged. In his proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln reminded Americans that even in the midst of “a cruel war of unequaled magnitude and severity,” there were reasons to give thanks. Lincoln spoke of “the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies,” a nation of bounties “so extraordinary … that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible …” But there was also something for citizens to be less thankful for: the first federal income taxes. Lincoln had signed a tax bill in 1861; it was overhauled in 1862, creating the agency that later became the Internal Revenue Service.
We imagine that tens of thousands of households welcomed Thanksgiving joyfully after the Great War ended 100 years ago. Sons, fathers and brothers who had been over there at last were coming home. Many other families, however, grieved for an empty spot at the table. In that first Thanksgiving only days after World War I, President Woodrow Wilson declared, over-optimistically: “Complete victory has brought us not peace alone but the confident promise of a new day as well, in which justice shall replace force and jealous intrigue among nation.”
Scant decades later, America was at war again. And it didn’t end there. There was Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan.
Despite all the gloom and doom in the world today, we have much to be thankful for. We can never be sufficiently grateful, no matter what comes — coronavirus, storms, wildfires, death. A kind word, a caring call, or a well-timed visit can make a holiday feel special even during the toughest of times.
This Thanksgiving, every Thanksgiving, there are many good reasons to celebrate. Dwell on those. And have a glorious holiday.