What are the aspects of your life which cause you to feel gratitude? When you take something for granted, how do you get past that feeling and remember how truly blessed you are? Is there more to this approaching holiday than stuffed turkey, pumpkin pie and football?
Many people in diverse cultures have celebrated the equivalent of Thanksgiving, setting a day or a season aside to express gratitude to their deities for the gifts of life.
The list starts with my beautiful wife, who has stood beside me through so much. This is a special holiday for us, because it was on a Thanksgiving Friday, in 1998, that I actually gave her an engagement ring, in the rose garden outside the Sacred Heart Church.
Of all the things I am grateful for, she is first on the list. I never would have imagined that such a marriage could exist, not for me; it is something I had believed confined to Hollywood fantasies.
There are my stepchildren, and my grandson, whom I hope that I exercise a positive influence on, and give the right kind of guidance to. There is my extended family, which provides a context and meaning for my family life, along with my friends, who could be termed a family of choice.
This is the community which has the strongest impact on us, the one which provides a support system and surrounds us. Not the least of these, I am grateful for my dogs. …
I am grateful for my students, because I look at each one of them, college freshmen, as a potential leader in the society of the future, and I am allowed to have a role in helping them to grow to be the kind of adults they can become. I am grateful for my congregation, as most of them, most of the time, are striving to be a spiritually alive community. I am grateful for my Guard unit, because of the value system that most of us share and our commitment to defending the rights of our nation, with our lives if need be.
I am grateful for my health; two years ago at Thanksgiving I was in the middle of chemo and this year, I just finished a long-distance bike ride.
I am grateful to all the coaches I had who encouraged us to take care of our bodies, because I really believe being in shape was a key element to such a tight recovery from cancer and treatments. I am grateful for employment which I believe to be and hope to be meaningful in making society a better place, and I am grateful that the work which Jan and I do provides us a standard of living which ensures that we don’t have to live hand to mouth.
I am grateful that we live in an area where we can enjoy the outdoors, and do so for much of the year, because one of the secrets that my grandson and I share is that “Outside is better than inside.”
What does your list look like? I encourage my readers, each year at this time, to look a little beyond the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as we celebrate the blessings of our lives.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at