Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Part 2

I like this man's Thanksgiving spirit. Hope you enjoy this article as I do.

From the Morning Sentinel

A rafter of about a dozen turkeys has been wandering around my neighborhood all summer and fall. Obviously these birds know nothing about Thanksgiving or they are brave beyond words.
They are certainly safe from me but I can't say the same for their distant cousin who came -- featherless, fortunately -- from the grocery store and who will be part of our holiday on Thursday.

Perhaps more than any other holiday Thanksgiving revolves around the dinner table. Family and friends gather to feast and to enjoy each other.

Maybe even to spend a few minutes thinking or talking about why they are thankful.

For some, struggling with economic turmoil, job loss, mortgages in danger, piles of bills and greater piles of worry, it may be difficult to be thankful. For the least fortunate, local food banks and kitchens will provide dinners on Thursday. Their generosity should make us all thankful.

I'm thankful on many levels this year.

As a writer who concentrates on issues -- often contentious and difficult -- I am grateful that once again this year the United States demonstrated to the world that our democracy works. We held an election and selected a winner. The loser, Sen. John McCain, offered congratulations as did the current occupant of the White House. There were no tanks or soldiers in the streets. No one doubts that on Jan. 20, George Bush will move out and Barack Obama will move in.

Even our most difficult elections end peacefully. There have been arguments, disagreements, court challenges. And then, peaceful transition, exemplified by the gracious welcome given the Obama by the Bushes in their visit to the White House just 10 days after the election.

In electing an African-American president the nation took another step toward racial equality. We're not there yet, but the election was a significant milestone, recognized as such all over the world -- and by McCain and Bush. That's another reason for thanks.

I am also grateful that good men and women ran for office. Certainly I include McCain and Obama. But I also think of Waterville Mayor Paul LePage who was challenged for re-election by city councilor Rosemary Winslow. I was privileged to be moderator for a debate between the two in October. I came away impressed with how fortunate the city is to have been able to choose between such capable candidates. Leading a city is never easy; it is even more difficult in these challenging times. LePage has my best wishes.

Maine voters chose between two talented, experienced candidates in the race for the U.S. Senate, electing Susan Collins for a third term. And we have no doubt that Tom Allen will play an important role in Maine and the nation in years to come.

These are the sorts of thanks that columnists have; political, official -- not very personal.

But the thanks that mean more to me -- the ones I'll think about at the dinner table -- are about family and friends.

The number 90 figures a lot in my thanks. My wife's aunt -- I think of her as my aunt, too -- turned 90 in October. We drove to Maryland to help her celebrate.

My mother-in-law will be 90 next month. Forget all the nasty mother-in-law jokes. They don't apply to Edith, who is as dear to me as she is to my wife. I'm looking forward to her birthday brunch in Milwaukee.

In June, we'll go to Seattle for my mother's 90th. She's planning her own party. We'll gather at the city zoo. Should be fun.

These three remarkable women all live independently and do rather well at it. All have strong opinions. They keep abreast of the news. They care for themselves and intend to keep doing so.

Isn't that worth some thanks? I think so.

I'm thankful that a very good friend from Rhode Island who will share Thanksgiving with us has returned to health after a liver transplant. It is astounding to compare him now -- full of vigor, preparing to leave on a three-month trip to do academic research in Mexico -- to just a year ago. Then he had trouble walking 20 yards. This summer we played golf. Lots of swings. Lots of walking.

I'm thankful that science has developed techniques like liver transplant surgery that can prolong the lives of people -- and make those lives worth living.

I wait for the day -- not too distant, I hope -- when stem-cell research will bring us closer to cures for Parkinson's, perhaps help paralyzed people walk again and save lives in countless ways. That will be special cause for thanks.

I'm about to finish my second year in retirement. I had a wonderful career in journalism, capped with five years as editor of the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel. I'm thankful that my work brought me and my wife to Maine, which we have come to love. I know I'll always be "from away," but even transplants can appreciate how special this state is.

Finally, I'm thankful to the many people who read this column, some every week; especially those who respond with their thoughts. Some agree; some always disagree. Regardless, I welcome the dialogue. I plan to keep writing; please keep reading.

To the neighborhood turkeys -- the birds, not the people -- I assure you I have no plans to add you to the festive table on Thursday.

To everyone else, Happy Thanksgiving.

David B. Offer is the retired executive editor of the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel. E-mail

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