Thanksgiving began in 1621 when a band of destitute pilgrims decided to have a day of feasting and prayer to thank God for their first good harvest in the new world. Having survived a year of hardship, fear, and deprivation, they were thankful for very simple things, like food, shelter, and the freedom to worship as they pleased. We have come a long way in the past 384 years.
Today, in a world of affluence, we tend to be a little more discriminating in our thankfulness. We take food, shelter, and freedom for granted. Most of us are thankful for things the pilgrims never dreamed of. Or, if we aren't thankful for those things, we should be. I've made a list of some of the things I'm thankful for.
I'm thankful for restaurants and fast food. It's nice to have Burger King, El Salto, and Big Mo's in town. My grandparents had to catch their KFC in the barnyard. And, if they wanted a side order of mashed potatoes and gravy with the chicken, they had to dig the spuds and boil the water. I like things a lot better nowadays.
I'm thankful for the interstate highway system. East Carbon was a long ways from Price when my father was a kid. In 1930 it took two hours and two flat tires to get to Sunnyside. Durango and St. George might as well have been in Africa. You had to go on a safari to get there. None of this 75 miles per hour stuff back then. People used to go to Salt Lake on the train. It was easier than fighting your way over the mountain in the mud and snow.
I'm thankful for clean air, clean water, and the guy who picks up my trash on Thursdays and hauls it away. I remember when everyone in town burned household trash in 55 gallon barrels. I remember too, when the Price River was the community sewer. Those people who say that humanity does nothing but degrade the environment haven't been around for very long. When everyone in town had a coal furnace in their home, the air and the snow on main street was dark with soot.
I'm thankful for neighborhood grocery stores. They've got things there our ancestors never dreamed of, like fresh vegetables all winter long. They have ocean fish and we don't even have an ocean. They've got bananas and oranges all year round.
I'm thankful for a modern hospital, doctors who graduated from college, and a dentist who freezes my face before boring holes in my teeth. I'm thankful that my grandchildren can be born in a safe, sterile, and friendly environment.
I'm thankful for prescription eyeglasses, cell phones, antibiotics, email, Velcro, and Yamaha ATVs. I'm thankful for Gore-Tex and Thinsulate. When I was a kid, my leather boots would get wet and cold in the wintertime. Gore-Tex and Thinsulate are gifts from the gods.
I'm thankful for central heating and air conditioning, long distance telephone service, electric lights, refrigeration, and indoor plumbing. I'm thankful for permanent press, MasterCard, and the Internet.
I love my TV, CD music, and electric shaver. I can't do without my microwave, dishwasher, or electric clothes dryer. My car has become an extension of my body.
I'm thankful for the people who go out on cold, dark nights to keep the lights on and keep the rest of us safe: policemen, firemen, EMTs, search and rescue guys, and electric linemen to name only a few. I'm thankful for people who volunteer and give of their time and talents to teach a child, clean a highway, or hold a dying hand.
I'm thankful for children with big bright eyes and honest smiles. Children can teach us so much if we will only listen.
My favorite Thanksgiving story is of seven-year-old Chelsey Every, daughter of Cregg and Malisa Every, who last year asked if she could say the prayer at the Thanksgiving dinner table. She asked God to bless the food, the family, pets, neighbors, and friends, and then she said, "Oh yes, and God, we hope that you have a nice day too."
What can anyone say about that, except Amen?