Thanksgiving thankfulness rampant

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Got your attention, didn’t I? I was thinking more of heraldry, not realizing that the usual meaning of rampant is something like unrestrained violence! But I think our thankfulness should be unrestrained and wild in its complete abandon as we praise our Lord and thank Him profusely for all His benefits! There are some things that happen that are really hard to be thankful for, but for me there are too many others to dwell on those things.

I do have some of both: I would rather not be “living with heart failure,” but on the other hand, I am thankful to still be living. I thank my doctors and surgeons for that. I know it is better “over there” with our Lord, but since I like it here, I am in no hurry to verify that. I told a friend the other day that it was good to see him, and he replied, “Better to be seen than viewed.” So yes, first I am thankful to be alive!

Next, I am thankful that most of my family is, too. And they are mostly in good health, another blessing to be thankful for. All who need to work have jobs and the ones in school are making good grades. All have comfortable housing and enough to eat.

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I am thankful that my ophthalmologist removed my cataracts and inserted lenses that enable me to see very well now without glasses. He is also watching for worsening macular degeneration. I am thankful that I can still hear well enough to tune pianos; Fran thinks that I have “selective hearing.” And I am thankful I can go to my climate-controlled gym and saunter on their treadmill.  

We will celebrate Thanksgiving again this year with “friends of long standing” who are coming over from Newport News. We will dine out in Asheville with our son Thomas. Our celebration of the holiday has evolved over the years, but our sincere thankfulness has not changed. I have a well-developed “attitude of gratitude,” not waiting for the Big Day to express my thanks.  

Back in the Dark Ages (my kids’ term) when I was a boy, we all gathered at Grandma’s house for the feast, of course. But all the families had a “season of prayer” after breakfast in which everyone gave voice to their thankfulness for all things they considered blessings. The little kids’ prayers were often enlightening and sometimes humorous.

When Mama Rippy announced that the “fatted calf is on the scaffold high,” it was time to EAT, so Papa Rippy gave only a short prayer of thankfulness for the bounty of the table. Nearly everything was there through the sweat of someone’s brow, for most of us had a hand in raising the animals or crops responsible for the food as well as its preparation for the table.

All the leaves were put in the big table and additional chairs were brought in for the adults. The kids ate in shifts at the doll tables and their little chairs brought by the parents of girl cousins. As at church gatherings, there was more food than we could eat. Most parents opted to take home samples of others’ best dishes, not finding any of their own left for same reason . . .

I hope that you also have more to be thankful for than to endure. I also hope that you thank everyone daily who helps you in any way, especially members of your own family. Let them know that you appreciate them, too.  

Garland will be at the Book Shelf on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., to sign his newest book, “Still More Remembering,” containing the third hundred of these columns. This milestone edition remembers more than 300 people, with photographs of many of them.