It is tempting at this time of the year to compose an “I am thankful for ... ” column. But I can’t. Not because I don’t have so very much for which to be thankful — I do — but because no one could ever top the efforts of the late Furman Bisher, sports editor of the Atlanta newspaper, and the finest writer to come down the pike. His annual Thanksgiving columns will never be surpassed, so I won’t try. I will simply say I am thankful to have known Furman Bisher.
The fourth Thursday of November is officially Thanksgiving Day in the United States as so decreed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941, signing a joint resolution of Congress back when our federal government actually functioned. Today, Congress can’t agree on the time of day, let alone what day of the month to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Our modern Thanksgiving holiday was first declared by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 in hopes of bringing some unity between the Northern and Southern states, who were busy fighting an uncivil war. As we all know, that was a floperoo. Not only did it not unify us, we have stuck-in-the-past zealots on both sides still fighting it. Get over it.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, by the grateful survivors of the Mayflower voyage from England — our first illegal immigrants — and a group of Native Americans who taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn and, in hindsight, may wish now they had let the crowd float on back to Europe since they ended up taking over Massachusetts and acting like it had been theirs all the time.
In the Yarbrough household, we don’t just celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we also celebrate the Birthday Bash. That is a unique day in our family in which great-grandson extraordinaire Cameron Charles Yarbrough and his doting great-grandfather get together and celebrate their respective birthdays in one festive swoop. It is an exclusive affair. Only the two main participants are invited to attend, although a bunch of aunts and uncles and cousins and parents and grandparents do show up and look on enviously as we scarf down birthday cake. We do allow them to make a fuss over us. That’s the least we can do.
Our birthdays are two days apart. Cameron’s mother swore to me that she would see to it that he was born on my birthday. She forgot to tell Cameron, who decided he had had all he could take being hidden away from his adoring fans for nine months and decided to pop in — or maybe “pop out” is more accurate — a couple of days early and start enjoying the perks that come with being the first-born great-grandson. The perks are plentiful. You can take his great-grandfather’s word for that.
In truth, Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a one-day affair. It should be ongoing — all day, every day.
Sadly, we are a racially divided bunch of ingrates living in the greatest country on Earth who refuse to acknowledge our blessings and instead obsess on our differences. Isn’t it ironic that we bleat about our right to exercise our freedom of expression, but don’t give thanks that we live in a country that permits us to do so. In fact, we emphasize our freedom of expression by dishonoring our country. Only in America.
Just when I think the rabble-rousers represent our future, I got to see a far better side of us and it gives me hope. Last week, I spoke to an assemblage called the Capital Group, composed of 25- to 35-year-old entrepreneurs, representing fields from real estate investment to restaurants to financial planning and more. A brighter, more talented and competitive bunch of young capitalists you will never see. But what sets this group apart beyond their smarts is that they gather monthly to talk not just about their businesses, but about their Christian faith, as well.
They won’t get the publicity the ingrates get (except on these pages), but these young people represent the best in all of us and in our country. For them, I give thanks.
Obviously, I am thankful that God has given me a do-over and I am getting back to my sassy self. I am thankful that you read and respond, whether you agree with me or not. And I am thankful that editors give me the opportunity to have these weekly conversations. My cup runneth over. May I never forget that. Thank you.