A Thanksgiving To Be Thankful
The other morning I looked westward out my kitchen window at the thick mat of bright yellow maple leaves lying on the ground barely moving in the wind. They were glowing and it was beautiful. The sun was shining and I was happy.
For the past seven months I watched the sunrise from the car during my commute to Ehrlich Headquarters in Annapolis. Now that my daily trek to work is once again three miles to Main Street, Hampstead, there is time to enjoy and be thankful for the picturesque area I have called home for 55 years.
I have written previously about my family’s traditional Thanksgiving gathering. Aunts, uncles, cousins and their families gathering annually since the first Thanksgiving celebrated in my great-grandparents newly-built farmhouse in 1893. Roughly 50 of us will once again gather; this year’s location is just outside my window at my mother’s home.
Mom, at 81, has “old school” farm-born-and-bred work ethics; the house is spotless inside and out. She will cook one of the two 20-pound turkeys (I will deep-fry the other), prepare the stuffing, potatoes and the gravy; while the other families each bring the side dishes and desserts. Who wouldn’t be thankful for a Mom like that?
Lately, however, Mom has fallen to the competition. At the top of the list is a beautiful little girl who at age two just melts her grandfather’s heart every time she calls me “Pappy.” An upcoming bonus, on the grandparent scene, is the fact just a few more weeks and she will have a little brother!
I love the political game and the musings that ensue. I love to opine concerning the right and wrong turns taken by politicos, second guessing their movements and reporting how it could have been accomplished better in some fashion, but this Thanksgiving Day column for me will truly be about being thankful.
I am a blessed man with a big extended family, however, over time I have also created a political family, people who have become important and attached to my life in various ways. Some have become deep, very personal relationships which I treasure. I have mentors who are father-like in their advice, confidants who have been like brothers, and friends who in turn seek my counsel.
This year I made new friends across Maryland; some have had political successes and some have had heartbreaking loss, and some are just the salt of the earth. They each have enriched me and in the political world that doesn’t always happen. A few have become new mentors for me, whom I will continue to tap for their experiences and wisdom.
I’m thankful, too, for my “old gang” of political wonks. We will soon gather at my home over the Christmas holiday for a meal and an evening of political banter and laughter, most of which will surely bore our spouses as they tolerate our celebration. Who wouldn’t be thankful for good friends in the political game? Especially this group – they are always there for me.
My political experiences this year have really made me think about the first Thanksgiving. The desire and daring early settlers had to leave their homes and families; their drive to escape government oppression seeking a new and hopefully better way of life – all the while giving thanks to God, even through hardship.
Thanksgiving in the “New World” was celebrated by groups of people who chose a new life. Who knows if they were friends before the journey, but I will assume sharing the trials and tribulations of the common experience of adventure and exploration made them a tight knit, dependant group of friends.
"We ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” Is a quote from Captain John Woodleaf, December 4, 1619, disembarking in Virginia – and so Thanksgiving in America began.
Just two years later, at Plymouth, the Pilgrims are giving thanks for their survival in this new land. William Bradford is quoted: “Thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity. They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty.”
These quotes make me feel small and humble on this Thanksgiving Day 2010 when I think about the hurdles and adversities these settlers overcame in their quest for religious freedom and a new life. My complaints about personal political trials and tribulations are insignificant by comparison.
I am thankful for this country, its beginnings, those who went before me and gave be opportunity. This Thanksgiving I will give thanks for my bounty and celebrate.