“For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything Thy goodness sends.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you’re reading this at home, look around into the faces of your family and even the family pet. How grateful we should be to have them. Many of us will have an empty seat at the table this year, but cherish the memories of Thanksgivings past and all the other wonderful years with our loved ones. Think how fortunate we are to be able to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast in the comfort of a warm home.
There are those among us who have lost our homes to foreclosure and have had to downsize. Think of those among us waiting in long lines for a decent meal. And, if you’re reading this at a restaurant, barbershop, gym, spa, nail or beauty salon, be grateful for the luxury to be able to eat out or to those little creature comforts in these difficult economic times.
We should be grateful that, be it ever so humble, homes in America are lavish compared to many places in the world. Case in point, in the beautiful island of Jamaica there are places most tourists rarely see. I am especially grateful this year to Dr. Earl and Carolyn Glenn, owners and publishers of this Champion Newspaper and founders of Unconditional Love for Children Inc., for affording me the opportunity to see Jamaica through another lens. Each year the Glenns through their ULC sponsor a month-long summer camp for children in a remote mountain village outside Montego Bay.
Picture in your mind’s eye a small enclave high in the hills above the posh hotels and shimmering sea accessible only by a deeply rutted one-lane unpaved road. The village is anchored by a small church along with a three-room cinderblock school. The houses are crude dwellings built into the hills. The only commerce is a little shanty on the side of the road with an enterprising dread-locked merchant selling sodas, chips, candy and such.
I taught elementary and high school children basic public speaking and presentation skills. I also produced and coordinated the closing program with the assistance of John Hewitt, The Champion’s chief operating officer, and some wonderful Georgia Perimeter College students and staff. The program incorporated Jamaica’s history and its 50th year of independence, which occurred this year. But the children and their families were amazing.
Even with so precious little in the way of material goods, the children were bright, happy, well-mannered and eager to learn. Their parents made sure the children were freshly scrubbed and in place on time. They were extremely grateful for the Glenns’ benevolence and that of other loving strangers the Creator sent their way. Their names and smiling faces are indelibly etched in my mind and on my heart. My problems became shameful and miniscule in the faces of their gratitude. My own gratitude soared.
So even in these difficult and sometimes harsh economic times, let us be grateful for the abundance we enjoy in this land of the free and home of the brave. Let us be grateful for the democratic process. Whether our candidate won or lost, we should pledge to move forward in a spirit of cooperation and for the greater good of our communities and country.
Let us be grateful for our armed forces fighting on foreign shores protecting the freedoms we enjoy throughout the year. Let us be grateful for the men and women of our emergency responders—EMTs, firefighters and DeKalb police who go into harm’s way each day. Let us support our leaders and elected officials, who—though they don’t always get it right and often times have horrific lapses in judgment— still make the personal and family sacrifices for service.
Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful American tradition. It is steeped in relationships. So let us dare not take for granted life, health, food, shelter, clothing and most of all each other. Grateful!
Steen Miles, The Newslady, is a retired journalist and former Georgia state senator. Contact Steen Miles at Steen@dekalbchamp.com.