Perhaps more than any other holiday we celebrate, Thanksgiving is a time when many Americans are sticklers for tradition.
For many, that means turkey and homemade dressing, real mashed potatoes with gravy that does not come out of a package, green beans like Grandma used to make, and pumpkin pie. Some observe family traditions that may have nothing to do with the Thanksgiving we believe the Pilgrims enjoyed. A few days ago, for example, we overheard one person commenting on the key lime pie that will grace her table today.
What about Thanksgiving traditions that have nothing to do with food, however?
Chief among them is recognizing the many blessings our Creator has lavished upon us - and expressing our gratefulness to him.
Sometimes the challenges of everyday life - pleasing the boss, paying the bills, coping with the newest round of government regulations and taxes, repairing that leaky faucet and getting the kids to after-school practice on time - seem overwhelming. When we overcome them, as we almost always do, our mental, emotional and physical fatigue often mixes with feelings of personal achievement. We did it!
And sometimes, we just feel overwhelmed. We wonder what on earth there is for us to be grateful about.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to look around and realize most of us are truly blessed.
We have enough to eat. We have roofs over our heads. We have clothing to keep us warm in the winter, cool in the summer. If we get sick, regardless of our incomes, health care professionals will help us. As Americans, we still enjoy liberty and prosperity that is the envy of those in most of the rest of the world.
Especially here in the Ohio Valley, we are surrounded by compassionate neighbors eager to help us if we need a hand.
And we have our precious, beautiful families.
All Americans are not so blessed, it is true. A few are in very real need. One of the ideals of Thanksgiving, we may reflect today, is sharing our bounty with the less fortunate.
Most of us are able to share because of material blessings we have been granted.
And most of us would feel no loss if our turkey-and-all-the-trimmings dinners were not on the table today - as long as our families were gathered around.
We really have a lot to thank God for today - blessings beyond counting for most of us.