chelsea cookHere in the USA we are getting ready to celebrate one of our nations biggest holidays, Thanksgiving. We are supposed to feel so good about all the blessings we enjoy that we set aside one day a year to acknowledge the blessings and the fact that our favorite football team may be playing so we don’t have to sit around and listen to the sermons about blessings. One tends to forget what the rest of the world is doing on this day. And, one would not have to go far to see what others in our community are not doing. Dieting comes to mind. If someone were to tell me I had to name all my blessings before I could sit down to a sumptuous dinner, I would be talking, or writing, well past midnight. If spelling counted, it would be longer than that. Most of you are just about where I am in that you have a great deal to be giving thanks for. Often I think of my friends in Ukraine and how far they have come in such a short time. In western Ukraine many are living much as we do in the USA, with differences in the amount of consumer goods and the ease of travel. Just very near to that and in the same country, the people are slowly being turned back to being governed by a dictator and he isn’t even in their country. The power of propaganda is working and we Yanks forget how powerful it can be.
Another thing to be thankful for is the ease we can travel. When I grow up I want to visit Italy and stay for a long time. I think I could go near to where P.** lives and do fine. No, I do not speak Italian but I can make excellent hand gestures. If he ever decided to come here he would find almost many people here in the eastern part of USA who speak Italian as live in Italy, well, almost  as many. One wonderful thing we do not celebrate enough is that we live in a place where difference doesn’t matter. We are in danger of losing that but we can be careful and keep living as “Americans” and letting people live as they wish. It may even be time to start a movement called “Old Retired Teachers Matter” and see how many people would turn out for a rally. Probably not many as the streets in Tulsa are so rough the walkers would fall into a pot hole and crash some senior.
Years ago, while hitch hiking around the country looking for a job, I slept under trees in the open and under a bridge among other delightful experiences. While hitching through Louisiana during one dry spell, I was stranded very near a swamp. There was no moon so the night was as black as a Frankenstein movie. My back was to the swamp but I could see the water when I turned around and I could hear the alligators plotting their next move as they were sneaking up on me. It is very hard to use ordinary words to describe how thankful I am that my kids did not have to go through those kind of experiences. Then add how thankful I am that I don’t have to hitch around anymore  and until Congress does away with Social Security, we are doing fine.
Another thing to be thankful for is the amount of medical help that is available to us. Yes, our medical is more expensive than almost anywhere else in the world but it is there. On one mission trip to Ukraine the team visited a hospital. There were children there who had been sent down from the Chernobyl disaster. Basically, nothing could be done for them as the hospital was not equipped to handle those type of injuries. It is doubtful that any hospital could have. Having just one grandchild at the time I was more than thankful she would never have to even come close to such a scenario.
So, here we are at an “American” Thanksgiving enjoying our bounty and some of us volunteering to serve at a dinner for the less fortunate. It seems to me we don’t put enough emphasis on reducing the number we have to serve once a year. Somehow, somewhen, somewhere we should have figured out that many of these people are hurting and it is not their fault. Yes, some people just will not help themselves but the vast majority of those served need some extra type help. I volunteer at the Salvation Army as I know this organization helps year round all the people I can’t. But, I am thankful there are people who are trying to help them.
My best wishes to you on this holiday.