More than a year into a deep recession, and amid foreclosures, business failures, and pink slips, it may be hard to come up with reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving. So here's a list of some of the things that came to my mind, some of which may not be on your list. Feel free to "borrow" any of them.
The bitter Minnesota winter has held off a few weeks, giving us a small respite on fuel bills, and enough time to get all our coats and boots and hats ready.
We have access to information in a way and quantity never before enjoyed. The world is literally at our fingertips.
America enjoys the most bountiful and inexpensive food in the world. Even when younger members of our households feel "there's nothing to eat," there are usually many choices.
We live in a country where we democratically choose our leaders and representatives. Even if we disagree or dislike some of them, we can be sure that they were fairly elected. Few other countries can say that these days.
Thanks to the Internet and Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, everyone can keep tabs on everyone else. It's so much more effective than the old-fashioned gossipping over the backyard fence.
At the same time, the Internet (and Facebook, e-mail, and Skype) help us keep in touch more closely and more often these days. And it's all free. (Does anyone else remember the $8.00+ per minute long distance charges to call overseas?)
Anyone with a working computer and an Internet connection will never be bored. There are SO many ways to keep busy (and get in trouble) on-line.
Most of all, it was Thanksgiving Day seven years ago when we came home to Minnesota with our dear, little George - who is not so little any more.
The trip home was hectic. We had to pack in the middle of the night, with no power or water. We left Tbilisi at about 5 a.m., still without power and having to carry everything down five flights of stairs in the dark.
It seemed like hours of paperwork in the Tbilisi airport, with the biggest question being: were we taking with us any precious, irreplaceable artwork. (No!)
We had about 45 minutes in London to change terminals, not just planes, and go through customs, hauling all our stuff with us as we literally ran through crowds of people.
Flew from London to Chicago. George wouldn't buckle his seatbelt so we had to enlist a flight attendant to threaten him, often. Then he thought it was great fun to turn off our little seat-TVs and play with the sound. Wouldn't take a nap. I thought for sure, somehow, that American Airlines, on this momentous day, would serve us turkey and dressing. (Hello, American Airlines!) Nope. Mini-pizza.
Arrived in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone who got stuck working that day was really cranky about it. REALLY cranky. We got "extra" treatment because George became a U.S. citizen as soon as our plane touched down in Chicago. So he got to have his immigration interview right there in Chicago, with a very unhappy immigration officer. Two hours later and his passport was stamped "Authorized to Work." George was 2 at the time.
Got to the Northwest gate just in the nick of time. George was randomly picked for a "special" security search, but they refused to search a baby. We ran onto the plane and took the first three seats available. All three of us were asleep before the plane pulled away from the gate in Chicago, and we slept through the landing in Minneapolis too.
It's all been a blur since that day seven years ago. But that day itself is still crystal-clear. There's no name for such a day, though. It has all the importance of a birthday or anniversary, but it's not really either of those. It's just our own "Thanksgiving Plus", I guess.