1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



Giving Thanks

David Shields  Nov 22, 2010

The worship most acceptable to God comes from a thankful and cheerful heart. -- Plutarch

The fourth Thursday in November comes this week. It is not the time to be ranting about this and that. The fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving, and it behooves us all to reflect on all the things for which we are truly thankful.

First, I am thankful for the Wampanoag people, Indian tribes who populated the Eastern Woodland from Canada to South Carolina and west to Wisconsin. The Massachusetts, the Punkapogs, the Narragansett, the Nipmuck and other tribes who greeted the Pilgrims and helped them survive the harsh winters and their own ignorance.

In 1621 about 90 Wampanoag and what colonials were left from the 1620 Mayflower voyage to “Plimoth” all got together to celebrate the harvest in what is widely believed to be the first Thanksgiving. While that may have been the first American Thanksgiving, it certainly wasn’t the first celebration of the harvest. Mankind all over the world has been celebrating harvest time from the earliest days of antiquity and it has been a time of thanksgiving for all the blessings bestowed by the gods.

Of course, the Wampanoag people lived to rue the day, but that is ancient history. It makes for a wonderful Thanksgiving story though. And it seems entirely fitting to at least acknowledge that many of our blessings are based on somebody else’s sacrifice, which brings me to the first item for which I’m truly and eternally grateful.

I give thanks for my mother, a wonderful woman who lived a long life and went to her grave bending over backwards giving to others and so very little to herself. She was overly generous to me. I certainly never deserved her goodness or her sacrifices and I was half-way or more to my own demise before I ever realized it. A sad truth is I never got around to telling her how very much I appreciated what she had done for me.

I give thanks to my father, too, who by all traditional standards wasn’t worth shooting, but he had his moments, and given his love of liquor and his inability to cope with the death of his first born, he often did what he could. And I give thanks for my two older brothers who loved “the baby” and took such pride in his smallest achievement and always wanted for me more than they had.

And for the young West Virginia girl who could have done so much better but took me for a husband anyway, I give thanks. And the three healthy, sane and pretty darn special children we had together and who have given so much joy, none perhaps more than the five super grandkids that they’ve produced, I give thanks.

I give thanks also to a handful of people, especially the people of Alderson, West Virginia where I took root and grew into an adult, who took me for what I was when they met me and refused to give up on me even though they may have had plenty of reason to and helped me to be better and whose wise counsel and support to this day guide and fortify me. And friends galore who’ve come into my life since then and have meant so much to me, I give thanks.

Make no mistake, there are a lot of other things for which I’m thankful, but nothing else deserves more thanks than family, mentors and friends. I give my heartfelt thanks to them and to all who read this. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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