To Whom and From Whom
On Thanksgiving Day Americans give thanks to God. Used to be everybody knew that but the multiculturalists among us have done their damnedest to hide it, so it’s become necessary to state it up front. When I ask my students about who is to be thanked on this national holiday, they look puzzled. “Indians?” they guess. That’s a clue about what we’re becoming in the 21st century. Only after discussing it some will a student say, “Wait a minute. Isn’t it God?” Those of us fortunate enough to have extended family members in their eighties can ask them the question as a kind of experiment. My prediction is that they, too, will look puzzled, but not because they don’t know the answer. They’ll be puzzled that anyone would even ask the question.
Americans face uncertainty this winter, but not the kind we thought we’d be facing. Just a few months ago we were worried about high fuel costs when gas prices and heating oil prices were around $4 per gallon. Those costs are back down to manageable levels, but now the economy itself is uncertain. People are being laid off. Nearly all of us know someone who has either gotten a pink slip or whose business has slowed dangerously. The stock market is doing a slow-motion crash. Corporations and banks are failing left and right and few economic advisors are predicting that bottom will be reached anytime soon. Unlike his soaring rhetoric during the campaign, our newly-elected president is sending out spokesmen to damper down expectations that he’s going to fix everything next year, the year after, or even in four years.
This year, I’m thankful for basic things like life, health, family, food, clothing, shelter, and heat. After several years of idleness, I’ve dusted off my chainsaws, dropped trees, and worked them up with my splitting maul - and it felt good. I’d almost forgotten how satisfying it can be to work on the woodpile when it’s getting cold. It’s simple and meaningful work in a complicated world. When I moved my young family to Maine thirty-one years ago, that became my routine because I had no choice. Oil was too expensive. The kids pitched in and it was all good. On the woodpile, there’s no disconnect between the work you do and the reason you do it. It’s hard work, there’s no better feeling than looking at a full woodshed when snow starts to fly. For a man whose job is to take care of his family, it’s a labor of love.
Back to basics is good. So is self-reliance. There was a time when Americans depended on themselves for just about everything and wouldn’t think of calling on government unless there were an emergency. There were no such things as entitlements. We were strong then because the only thing we felt entitled to was the opportunity to work. We always believed in helping each other, but that help was direct. It was bringing your tools over to your neighbor’s and working with him. It wasn’t in the form of government shaking you down for taxes to be spent on people you believe should be doing more for themselves. There’s no satisfaction in that.
Thanksgiving Day is uniquely American. It started with ordinary people celebrating the fruits of their own labor, working side by side for their common welfare - their life, their liberty, and pursuit of their happiness, all of which they knew were theirs by right. They also knew where those rights came from - from their Creator, not from their government. A century and a half later, their descendants put it down in writing and sent it to the king. On that day back in 1621 however, they gave thanks to God.