Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, a time for us to contemplate our blessings, such as having the prosperity to stuff ourselves with turkey before vegetating in front of a football game on a big screen TV. But the older I get, the more I realize the importance of the little things that are right there in front of me to appreciate all year long; so once again, here is my list of blessings for which I am thankful in 2010.
First and foremost, I am thankful to God, who gives me what the Bible calls "a peace that passes all understanding." This was at the core of the first Thanksgiving celebration in Colonial America, as red men shared their bounty with white men, and early Americans gave thanks to Almighty God for the gift of life.
I am thankful for my loving bride, a godly woman who has born my troubles and my children, who has been my life partner and my prayer warrior, my trusted counselor and my best friend for 41 years and counting. As always, I offered this year to purchase a ready-to-eat Thanksgiving dinner at the local supermarket, but she will not hear of it, preferring instead to rise early on that day to prepare the traditional home-cooked dinner for the family she loves.
I am thankful for my sons. Both of them grew up far too fast, and as they went out to make their own way in the world, they left behind a trail of memories for their mother and me. They will be here at our table on Thursday, along with the grandchildren they have given us, and we will rejoice in their company and marvel at the gift they are to us.
I am thankful for the warmth of a wonderful old home, one filled with character and history, built by my wife's grandfather in February of 1915, on land that has been in her family since before the Civil War. The story goes that the frozen Nebraska topsoil had to be blasted open with dynamite, and the basement dug out using a team of mules. Since then, the home has never been out of the family. In the corner of the living room sits a handmade antique rocking chair with a long history of its own. It was a wedding gift from my great-grandfather to his new bride in 1900, and it has rocked five generations of Pattons.
I am thankful for the people in my life who know me well and still find it in their hearts to love me. They include my family and my closest friends. As I once told one of my sons, the people who love us will still be here long after the people we try so hard to impress have forgotten our names.
I am thankful for the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, who risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor that I might be born in a free country. When I consider the odds of having been placed here in this nation at this moment in time, I cannot do the math. With so many millions of people in this world who live in political, economic and/or spiritual bondage, I am in awe of the blessing God has granted me.
I am thankful for the Declaration of Independence, which acknowledges that my rights come from God, not from man, and for the Constitution, which forms the basis for a system that maximizes economic opportunity by emphasizing liberty. Because it is a system implemented by fallible human beings, it will never be perfect, but it is the best anyone in this world will ever see.
I am thankful that I live in a Constitutional Republic, where elections have consequences and the people are still able to make corrections to the course on which our leaders have put our nation, and that in this land I love, power is transferred peacefully, following free and open elections.
We have plenty of problems, but there also is much for which to be thankful in 2010. May God richly bless America and her people.