Thanksgiving Day has passed but the thankfulness lingers on. It’s a wonderful feeling, to be appreciative and to give thanks for the richness of life. I understand that there are even clinical studies showing that such feelings promote health. So on such a crusade, here’s what I suggest we can all be thankful for at this time.
For starters, let’s consider the weather. Amid the chaotic political climate, our weather has been serene right up to the end of November. When my family visited, we could walk the beach, stroll on the roads, play touch football — they did, not me — and just bask on the front porch in the sun. It was so warm, we could have been in Florida. And there was nary a raindrop in sight.
The warm temperatures have delayed the falling leaves, and many trees and bushes still offer bursts of glorious color. Even a drive on Northern State Parkway in traffic can actually be a pleasure, at least aesthetically. We know that the trees will soon be bare so this late autumnal show is particularly to be appreciated. The birds are still in fine chorus, the rabbits are bopping around in plain sight and the squirrels are playing between tree limbs even as they are busy gathering their acorns.
The satisfactions that come along with a visit from one’s family are grand. Despite any high-spirited political discussions, the sight and success stories of children and grandchildren fill one’s heart. My four grandchildren are at an age now when mighty accomplishments seem within reach and future possibilities appear limitless. Two are in college, each pursuing their respective dream of filmmaking and music composition; the third is visiting colleges between her volleyball tournaments; and the youngest is a star baseball player in high school, which is exactly where he wants to be on his hoped-for career in the majors. They are not frivolous in going about realizing their goals. They understand that academic excellence is required, and they work tirelessly at that task. During their visit, they could be found doing physics homework, prepping for the SATs and, to my great delight, practicing on their musical instruments. They, and we, have reached the stage where their music soars, even during practice. Gone are the squeaks and sour notes of yesteryear.
My children and their spouses are doing what they want to be doing and finding satisfaction in their particular successes, which gives me untold pleasure. They have also reached the stage in their parenting where they can appreciate their own parents. Three of my grandchildren are still teenagers, and I know of no harder job than the raising of teens. My children can look back now and sometimes marvel at how their parents handled those years. They might even ask for a bit of advice. That, of course, gives us grandparents further pleasure because our children have now become our friends. And for our part, we can ask their advice in turn. It’s a wonderful stage of life for us oldies. We can enjoy the capital gains of our investments in our children and the dividends with our grandchildren.
Ultimately what is it that really makes us thankful? I don’t know anyone who gives thanks for their Mercedes or diamond tiara, much as it may be fun to have those symbols of accomplishment. To be really thankful is to have what will outlive us — those we love.