Be thankful despite your troubles


In these very troubled times – national troubles, global troubles, financial troubles, violence troubles, climate and weather troubles, energy troubles, war troubles, strike troubles, health troubles, ad infinitum – there are many families who will surely have trouble being thankful this Thanksgiving Day.
And while it has been a sort of custom for me to rerun one of my mother’s Thanksgiving columns for this holiday, after 20 years perhaps it is time to do one of my own ramblings. Not necessarily about the day on which we all make it a point to give thanks, but about the everyday things for which we are thankful all the time without saying anything except to ourselves.
Let’s be thankful for the memories of other Thanksgivings. There are so many older folks who have lost these memories and for whom the holiday is just another day.
They can’t recall being in the kitchen with their mother as she basted the turkey, as she mashed the potatoes, as she unmolded the glittering cranberry jelly on the traditional silver plate.
I’m thinking, of course, of my sister, Barbara, whose stroke on Thanksgiving Day 2006 left her with no memory of anything and only one word, “gone.” But I am thankful she is being well taken care of physically and is in no pain and that I can remember the fun times we had together.
Let us be thankful for friends who keep in touch no matter how busy their personal schedule. They telephone or send a card or a note or a printout of something amusing from the Internet.
My dad kept a diary in his last years and reading it after he was no longer with me, my heart ached when he wrote, “No one called today, except Janie.” Sometimes he’d carry on a conversation with a telemarketer just to have contact with another human being. Don’t let that happen to one of yours!
Let us be thankful for whatever good health we have and for the skilled professionals who do their best to help us when something goes awry. Lately, I was very thankful for them when my heart decided it wanted to escape my chest and run away.
Fortunately, Judy and Marcia and Carol were available – I didn’t think it was a good idea for me to drive as the world was spinning too fast! – and although I spent one night in the hospital, all appears to be well.
To say I am thankful is an understatement.
(As a side note: What fun that the ambulance EMT recognized my name since he reads the column, and how hilarious that the hospital intern, after noting my birthdate, wanted to know where were my cane and walker. You can imagine my response!)
Let us be thankful we have been thrifty – no, downright penurious – so we are able to help a little those folks who, through misfortune or otherwise, need even our small assistance. We regret it can’t be in four or six figures, but we too must be ready if misfortune comes calling!
Let us be thankful we don’t have to go out and hunt and shoot our Thanksgiving turkey, gut it, laboriously douse it for plucking, and finally singe it over a candle or gas flame to remove the pin feathers.
Yes, that is the way it had to be done in the “good old days.” Today, your bird comes oven-ready, needing only your traditional stuffing and loving touch.
And here at this warm welcoming home, we are especially thankful for the love and companionship of our four-legged family – you know them all: Winnie, Lisa, Apache and Toby – and for the privilege of living with them.
Beloved Ori has been gone a year but his picture and that of Little Sister, who joined him in May, are in their usual conspicuous places, and in my heart they are reincarnated in the joyous presence of Winnie!


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A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.