I started my Thanksgiving a little early.  It was unexpected and certainly not traditional, but no less meaningful.

There was no turkey or football or day off.  In fact, I was at work when a good friend stopped by for a visit. We had not seen each other in several months, and time is critical now because he has cancer and not a very promising prognosis.

The cancer treatment he’s undergoing is experimental and he’s hopeful, but also realistic. We didn’t spend much time on his illness. Mostly we caught up on all the West Virginia news, especially the political stuff.

We exchanged stories and gossip. We commiserated on the issues of the day and occasionally laughed out loud.  I shouldn’t speak for him, but I believe we enjoyed each other’s company.

My friend, despite his long and painful fight with cancer, has never expressed to me any bitterness about his lot. He always seems to embrace the moment with the kind of enthusiasm that helps give life its meaning.

He still talks excitedly about the future, but it is tempered with the realization that he may not be around to enjoy it.

It was serendipitous that my friend would come for a visit just as I was about to write a commentary about Thanksgiving. The challenge was going to be coming up with something original about the holiday, and breaking new ground has never been my strong suit.

I know I should be thankful for my blessings every minute of every day, but let’s face it; we get busy. We take the divine for granted and complain about the mundane.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, in a proclamation written by Secretary of State William Seward, declared that a day of thanksgiving should remind us of “the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.”

“To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watching providence of Almighty God.”

Those words were written during the Civil War.  Even as the nation suffered though a terrible and bloody ordeal, there were reasons to be thankful.

Life has its share of pain and suffering, and as with my friend, it often seems unfair. I don’t know whether his course was set by God or by the randomness of a cold universe, but his grace in the face of darkness serves as my guide for this Thanksgiving.

 

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