The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 22, 2011

Giving thanks for our many blessings

Enid News and Eagle

— For what are you most thankful? Think about it.

It is impossible to say what we are the most thankful for as we are all so blessed. It always pleases me to see people who are grateful and not ashamed to show it. Even little kids who say “thank you” are a joy to be around.

At the top of the thankful list, I would have to say just having life. One only has to experience the death of a loved one to know just how precious life can be.

We are indebted to our ancestors. They made our life possible and worth living. We are thankful they braved hardships in the new world and paved the way for us to have things so convenient and easy and free.

What would we do without our families? When all else fails, we can rely on family to give us the support and security we need to exist. What a terrible thing it must be when families are estranged and not close.

Whatever do they do for comfort and love?

And right after families comes friends. Some friends are almost like family. We would be nothing without the love and appreciation of friends. They bring so much joy into our lives. Neighbors are friends, too, and wouldn’t this be a terrible world without wonderful neighbors? We love family and relatives and neighbors so much that it is easy to forget to tell them what they mean to us. We just expect them to know how we feel. Let any emergency happen and they are all at our sides, doing whatever needs to be done.

My readers are my special blessings. It is so good to hear from many of you who tell me that you read my column and make positive comments. Many of you make contributions of recipes and special thoughts and suggestions. Thank you. I appreciate you all.

We are so thankful we live in America. Other people in other lands love their home countries too, but we know what a democracy is like. We are able to vote and elect our own officials, with the majority ruling. We have a voice in our government and can say whatever we want without fear of punishment or worse.

America is truly the land of opportunity. There are people from every walk of life and every race and creed in every position and our politics. That is the way it should be. America is a place where we can become what we want to be and work toward our goals. Each person is judged on their own merit and not because of their parentage or background.

We could make a list of the things on our “thankful list” and it would be never-ending — things like food to eat. In this country, there are programs for those who are less fortunate. No one has to go hungry or be deprived of nourishment. It may not be exactly to their liking but it is nourishing and filling.

We all have clothes to keep us warm and covered. For people who have no wardrobe funds, there are closets that make protective clothes available to all. They might not be all that stylish, but there is a lot of warmth in them. I wore hand-me-downs when I was a kid and it didn’t hurt me at all. In fact, it makes me appreciate having warm clothes now.

We can all be thankful for a home and a bed to sleep in. I know there are homeless people who sleep on the streets, but thank goodness there are shelters that provide beds and a roof for those who seek help. Along with our thankfulness, we must remember those who need additional food and clothing. Be generous to those agencies providing for the needs of others.

We can appreciate the fact we live in a country where we have religious freedom. Too many people think our constitution says “freedom FROM religion” instead of “freedom OF religion.” We often take for granted the churches that are the backbone of our community and provide spiritual guidance and loving support.

I can truthfully say I am thankful for creature comforts like email. How wonderful it is to keep in touch with friends and family with this great invention. Daily I am grateful for our dishwasher and washer/dryer. And a refrigerator — remember those old iceboxes that needed to be filled with a chunk of ice, and the pan emptied of the melted ice? And a freezer. And a television and radio and cell phones, and any phones. And running water — I remember the days when we were not so blessed. And electricity — I remember those days, too, when we relied on coal-oil lamps and wood stoves.

It has only been in the past few years that I have really begun to appreciate good health. I think one has to see a loved one suffer or be ill to really cherish good health. It is only after age catches up with us and our health begins to fail that we appreciate the strength and vitality we once had.  We will never take it for granted again. We try to make every day count and never miss an opportunity to tell people we love them. William Shakespeare petitioned us: “Oh Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness”.

At this time of year, I am reminded of our hearty ancestors who settled in this virgin land and relied on turnips and wild game to survive the winter. I have told this story many times, but in our family it needs repeating to each generation. Again this year, I will serve the best turnip recipe I have ever tried, given to me by my friend, Hazel. They are easy and good hot or cold. Jim has never been crazy about turnips, but he does like these. I think you will, too.

Hazel’s Turnips

Slice turnips and microwave in a little water until tender. Drain well, then sprinkle with a little sugar and salt. Place thin slices of Velveeta cheese on turnips and microwave just until cheese is melted. Stir and serve.

Each day is a special blessing. Be thankful and make it count.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.