What I celebrate on Thanksgiving
By Tom Purcell
Published: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Sure, the country isn't doing so well at the moment, but there are still plenty of reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving.
I sit at the “big people's table” now, just to the left of my father. It took me years to earn that coveted spot, and for that, I am thankful.
Everyone in my family is healthy this year. My parents are 80 and 77, and doing well, and for that, I am surely thankful.
This will be my 51st Thanksgiving. I've celebrated most of them at my parents' house, with various relatives, my sisters and their children and grandchildren.
My father fell head-over-heels with my mother the first time he met her. He was a football star at Carrick High School and she was a cheerleader.
We marvel over their wedding pictures. My dad's hair was thick and black. My mother was stunning. As a couple, they looked like two actors in a 1957 Hollywood production.
They had no idea that day that their union would produce six children, 17 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
This is what I celebrate on Thanksgiving.
For so much of the year, we focus on what is not right. To be sure, lots of things are not right in our country, and civilized debate is needed to get us back on the right path.
I worry about spending and debt and dismal economic growth that is not producing enough wealth to pay our bills.
I worry about our rapidly growing government and the basic freedoms it is taking away. As the unintended consequences of ObamaCare rear their ugly heads, I am being joined in that worry by many others.
But that is not what Thanksgiving is about. It is a day to set politics aside. It is a day to remember what we have done right.
Bill Bryson, one of my favorite authors, points out that Thanksgiving is still one of the least commercial holidays we have.
Sure, there are ads for turkey and cranberry sauce. Sure, more retail stories are opening their doors on Thanksgiving night, which is regrettable.
But then again, there are no Thanksgiving greeting cards that have to be sent, no gifts that have to be exchanged. For most, Thanksgiving is still a simple day when you enjoy a traditional feast with your family.
One of my favorite parts of the day is when my father, at the head of our three or four tables, says grace.
My father, who has never enjoyed speaking publicly, stumbles through the words every year, but they still hold a great deal of meaning to me.
The first Thanksgiving was about thanking God for a plentiful harvest. That is the traditional meaning of the day.
As the American experiment produced tremendous results — as our free republic produced unimaginable wealth — Thanksgiving took on a whole new meaning.
Over many years, millions have flocked to our shores, asking for nothing but the freedom to pursue their own happiness.
This is what I celebrate still on Thanksgiving.
I love the commotion of the day. My father has to rent a couple of tables and several folding chairs to accommodate our family.
Everyone shows up with a plate of some kind — my new job is to make the second turkey and bring that with me — to contribute to the celebration.
After my father says grace, we toast loved ones who have passed. We pay tribute to Grandma and Nanny, Aunt Jane, Uncle Mike and Uncle Jimmy. We share humorous toasts and laugh out loud.
And then we dig into our feast.
We are thankful because we are together — because we know that everything we really need in life can be found sitting next to us at our Thanksgiving table.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- LaBar: Bryan winning world title at WrestleMania 30 is only option
- Penguins’ leads evaporate in loss to Sharks
- Sharks praise ex-teammate, newest Penguins player Goc
- McKeesport middle school student struck by dump truck dies in hospital
- Former public defender sues Fayette County officials over firing
- Martin would consider extending stay with Pirates
- 10 local wrestlers advance to PIAA Class AA semifinals
- Deer Creek mine discharge project should be wrapped up by late spring
- Randy Moss’ daughter proving to be a catch, too
- UPMC data breach, ID theft more expansive than thought