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Editorial: Celebrating a bounty of blessings
We have so much more than just the food to be thankful for on this day of reflection
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There’s no better pause in the year’s headlong march to the finish line than Thanksgiving. Unlike other flagged dates on the calendar that note religious or patriotic observances, today’s holiday is both secular and spiritual, a nondenominational celebration of our very being and the gratitude that evokes.

The holiday that began centuries ago as a peace offering between European settlers and Native Americans now may be better known as Black Friday Eve, symbolized by turkey, cranberry sauce and football, three distinctly American favorites.

Beyond that, it is set aside as a day to turn inward. While other holidays include rituals and symbols that involve the community at large — parades, egg hunts, decorations, fireworks and lit pumpkins — Thanksgiving is by nature a time of quiet reflection. Aside from the crush at the supermarket in the days before, there is no shopping nor gifts to wrap. Decorations are generally limited to the table centerpiece, and there are no outfits to wear, carols to sing nor flags to wave.

It is simply a day to pause the roller coaster of life and remember why we’re here. We do this not in a public square but in our homes, alongside family and close friends over a table of warm delights. It’s a time set aside to appreciate life itself and all it entails. And for that, we give thanks.

We at The Times are fortunate and honored to be part of your everyday lives, to share what we’ve learned and to reflect the faces and echo the beating hearts of a community. As part of a Thanksgiving tradition begun and continued by late, great Times editors Sylvan Meyer, Bob Campbell and Ted Oglesby, we’d like to dedicate to them our annual list of shared thankfulness submitted by our newsroom staff and editorial board.

On this day, we are thankful for ...

  • A community willing to reach out and help a family in need, like the couple with two children living in a van we profiled several weeks ago. Since the story appeared, they have been overwhelmed with offers of assistance, proving this town takes seriously its mission of providing love and charity to the needy.
  • For the printed word, whether it brings sadness, joy, information, inspiration or simply the truth.
  • Everyone who wears a uniform that gets dirty doing what the rest of us need done, in particular those in law enforcement, fire and rescue and the military.
  • The breaking of last year’s drought, which has helped refill our lakes and streams and kept the air free of smoke from wildfires this fall.
  • Louis Armstrong singing, “It’s a Wonderful World.”
  • People with a sense of humor, especially those who can appreciate acerbic, cynical wit.
  • Those who teach others how to read.
  • Cable TV channels that replay the old classic shows of our youth that still make us laugh and touch us with characters that are like family.
  • For those who put down the smartphones when they get behind the wheel. Please remember to do so on the drive to and from grandma’s house, for everyone’s sake.
  • The sound of a door opening and closing when someone has been gone longer than you expected them to be.
  • That moment when you finally reach the source of the highway backup and the road opens up in front of you.
  • The First Amendment and those who practice it.
  • Friends and co-workers who like to go to karaoke and trivia nights.
  • Half off at retailers during the holidays.
  • The hope that the Supreme Court may finally put an end to the never-ending “water wars” saga so everyone can move on to better solutions, and the costly lawyers we’re all paying for can find other cases to litigate. 
  • Watching a baby girl crawl, explore the world and find her voice.
  • High school sports teams that take care of business in regulation and don’t make a reporter sweat deadline any more than he needs to.
  • A very fine life, a very fine wife and the Jimmy Buffett Christmas Album.
  • Forgiveness and redemption for even the biggest mistakes. And on that note, parents who overcome great obstacles and learn how to love and care for their kids.
  • Chocolate with sea salt — and whoever it was who made it a thing.
  • That despite our pessimism, we can be blessed beyond our wildest dreams. 
  • Coffee (never enough), a Falcons win this week, an awesome family and a great boyfriend who finds humor in just about everything.
  • Generous co-workers who never leave you hanging, doctors who provide excellent care and family members who tolerate shenanigans.
  • Loving eyes of our furry friends who thank us with a wag or purr because we care for them — sort of like the care we’ve come to depend from an unseen, loving hand.
  • Georgia’s own Ray Charles singing, “Georgia on My Mind,” easily the greatest state song ever.

It’s encouraging to see that when all is said and done, our list of blessings far exceeds a  list of gripes, at least for most of us. We’re grateful for the chance to share this and all of our efforts with you, and we are thankful for the continued support from our readers and advertisers.

We wish a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and a blessed day of prayer and peace with the ones you are dear to you.

Share your thoughts on this or any other topic in a letter to the editor; you can use this form or send email to letters@gainesvilletimes.com. The Times editorial board includes General Manager Norman Baggs, Editor Keith Albertson and Managing Editor Shannon Casas, plus community members Susan DeCrescenzo, Cathy Drerup and Brent Hoffman.

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