Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Thanksgiving Thoughts...


Well, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I did...

While away on a brief, but much-needed, mini-vacation I tried to keep up with what was happening back here in the land of Newport-Mesa. I didn't dwell on too many issues while away - like the future of the Fairgrounds, for example. The object of being away was to "be away"...

I did read with interest the very nice notes published in the Daily Pilot which listed reasons many of our friends and neighbors are particularly thankful this year. Before I left I fired off a letter to the editor at the Daily Pilot which, as you will see, obviously was too long to fit their format. So, never wanting to waste a word, I've placed it here for your consideration.

Dear Editor,


This Thanksgiving is the most unusual I can remember. This year I find myself being thankful not only for good health, the love of a wonderful woman and supportive friends and relatives, but for the very fact that we can put a Thanksgiving dinner on our table.

This year millions of Americans who were working, providing a good life for their families and enjoying "Turkey Day" like the rest of us a year ago can no longer do any of those things. This year the economic downturn - read that "Depression", Mr. President - has cost millions of Americans their jobs, with no hope on the horizon for improvement.

This year, at a time when retailers are normally gearing up for whopping holiday sales, many are taping kraft paper on their store windows and closing their doors. This year we find folks collecting unemployment insurance benefits twice as long as in the past, and the government looking for ways to further extend those benefits.

This year we see merchants looking for creative ways to weather this economic storm, including selling their products for 25% of last year's prices - or less.

This year we find local and state governments teetering on the brink of insolvency, where service cuts, furloughs and early retirements have replaced more positive themes.

This year we find ourselves governed by an administration which lacks the basic management skills to even understand the results of their actions. We find two of our three largest automobile manufacturers taken over by the government and being forced to tolerate the whims of "czars" who have no concept of that business.

This year we find our banking industry, the cornerstone of our financial well-being, driven into the ground by hapless political hacks who seem intent on creating a socialist "utopia" in which creativity, industriousness and risk-taking are replaced by government handouts, lethargy and complacency.

This is a year in which we find businesses, large and small, trying to just hang on until "things get better", without any signs that it will happen any time soon. We see half-century old businesses retrenching to revenue and staffing levels of twenty years ago, just trying to stay afloat.

This time of the year we are usually deluged by solicitations from charities, asking you to pony-up again as you may have in the past. This year the solicitations sound a lot more desperate, perhaps because this is a year in which food banks, for example, are running out of food and charitable giving is drying up.

So, you ask, how do we celebrate Thanksgiving this year in light of all that doom and gloom. Here's my suggestion. Don't try to solve all the problems that face us. Find one cause - a family, organization or issue - and help out any way you can. Provide food, clothes and other necessities of life. Any local church will know of folks who can use whatever help you can provide. Eat a couple fewer meals out each month and contribute that money to the needy.

If you can't give material things, volunteer to help out serving homeless, seniors and youth organizations. Look around you - I'll bet that in even the most prosperous neighborhoods there are opportunities for giving. Help elderly neighbors put up their Christmas decorations. Take them shopping or to the doctor. Sit with them and read or just talk. Walk their dog, dump their trash or feed their cat.

This year, instead of being thankful for "stuff", we should be thankful for things we can do for others - and do them. This year put the "giving" back into Thanksgiving.

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