World Enough and Time: Thankfulness
I am fully thankful for the ordinary things in my life: family, neighbors, circles of friends, this community and those who protect it (military, police, fire, health personnel), and the great, variegated, vibrant country we live in. But there are particulars.
Hard to admit them, isn’t it, when we put our hands over our hearts, thank our protectors and pray over a loaded Thanksgiving table? But the particulars are there, when taxes are due, we are pressured to get vaccinated, or notice the increased cost of what’s on the table.
Not that we are consistent about our particulars. We question the allegiance of a talented quarterback who kneels during the Star Spangled Banner, but not the allegiance of a losing president who asks his vice president to ignore his Constitutional duty to certify election results. Take the Lord’s Prayer, where we praise God as the source of all that is Good, yet ask Him not to confront us with temptation. If God sent the serpent to Eve, we’re asking him not to send any talking snakes to us.
My East Coast family is thankful for the Republican victories in Virginia, but looking around for candidates other than Trump to run in 2024. None of them went to Dallas last month to be disappointed when JFK, Jr. didn’t appear.
My neighbors and I watch out for each other. I helped near neighbors on Broadway dispense candy to an estimated 900+ trick-or-treaters, though one might wonder whether things have gotten a bit out of hand. My cross-street neighbor is thankful for a free newspaper each day, since my News-Star carrier persists in giving me two copies. (I’ve called several times.)
I’m especially thankful for the circles of friends who have helped keep me social and somewhat tolerant. There is my senior tennis group, good people all, even though they tested my new hearing aids last November by chanting “Four More Years!” My church circle keeps me attentive to what should be important, not sparing admonishment when it is needed. (And sometimes, when it is not.) Thanks to the library group, including the Pioneer System, which kept me in digital books when going into the library seemed unnecessarily risky. I love working with the Friends group on the book sales and in planning next year’s ceremony honoring Pott County native, author Tony Hillerman.
Then there’s the larger circle of former colleagues, teachers, those who give me fresh-baked bread or jelly to spread on my fresh bread, those who read fully and half-baked poetry at our Third Thursday sessions, with audience tolerance for those of us who can only deliver ingredients. I am generally thankful for all teachers and librarians who try their hardest to help young people who become informed citizens, without whom our democracy can’t survive.
I’m very thankful for Avedis, other foundations, businesses and individuals who donate to help support the social and health services that we won’t pay higher taxes or trust government to provide.
Although OBU eliminated several sports that can keep folks healthy as they grow older—swimming, tennis, golf—, this fan is happy it kept the most action-packed and exciting team sport to watch, namely women’s volleyball.
Fall brings wonderful colors to my sweet gum trees, but I could wish the leaves would stay on the trees, along with the seed pods.
Thanks to the many drivers who don’t swerve around me and honk when I insist on driving the speed limit. (I’m not in a hurry; why are you?)
I can’t forget special thanks to the many charities that have me on their mailing lists. I do not need more Christmas cards! I may or may not send you money.
I value the unique circle of cat and Notre Dame fanatics, who are such good company that it’s not that hard to keep my peace when ND is whipping one of the schools I normally support. (I will watch at home if ND ends up matched with OU or OSU in a bowl.)
Of course, I am very thankful for free vaccines and the cooperative efforts to deliver them to everyone. The internet, NPR music programs, cable and streaming TV help sustain me, though I don’t particularly like extra charges to see certain movies, especially the very old ones. Not much to say about my landline phone, except that it helps provide employment for thousands of phone solicitors and their robot stand-ins.
There is the roof over my head, a yard that always wants my attention, piles of books to be read or donated to the Friends for resale, and my cat, my cat, my cat who sticks by my side. I’m thankful.
Bill Hagen is a retired OBU professor. He lives in Shawnee with his cat. Contact him at email@example.com.