Beyond the Standard Stuff: Gratitude for a Blend of the General and the Particular

Ross Mackenzie

11/22/2007 12:01:00 AM - Ross Mackenzie

On Thanksgiving we give thanks — or are supposed to. But to whom, or what?

Atheists say to no one beyond themselves, or to no thing beyond luck. Agnostics aren’t sure. Believers give thanks to their God — notably here in this beloved land. The earliest extant document of our Founding is the Mayflower Compact — signed by the principals on board before landing at Plymouth in 1620. It begins with these six words: “In the name of God. Amen.”

They were thankful, truly. They trusted in their God and believed they came here with his grace — and established a new nation. Our money long has carried the testimony, “In God we trust.”

Very well. Yet for what are we supposed to be thankful? For life — this life. For liberty, the ultimate cause. For the abundance blessed Americans, especially, enjoy. For our uniquely privileged, and guaranteed, pursuit of happiness.

That’s the standard stuff. What follows is a blend of the general and the particular — the serious combined with some back-of-the-classroom irreverence. The sentiment of but a single grateful American, it could be, should be, revamped and rewritten in 300 million versions.

I am thankful for the courage and dedication — the abiding persistence — of our sentinels in the military on the front lines of freedom, and for their turning our Iraq enterprise into what now may be a rout.

For a president who comprehends the essence of jihadist terror and its ambitions on me and thee, and has the moxie — the grit — to fight it.

For melody and music, as opposed to the raucous noise that these days too often passes for them.

For truth and beauty, daisies, gold, ingenuity, fountains, Labrador retrievers. For rain spattering on leaves and sliding down windows. For the privilege to be greeted by the sun every morning, and each day to roll on one’s back in life like a King Charles cavalier.

For discipline of the body and mind — indeed for anything that keeps the body moving and the mind working. (Said the great Frank Herbert, author of the “Dune” series: “Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.”)

For the bald eagle redux.

For turkeys sacrificing for our gastronomic satisfaction.

For kids, teachers, doctors and nurses. For the men and women who get up early each day, and go to bed too late, to raise the young and stoke the nation’s engines.

For the still small voice.

For those still reading books in this drear electronic hour.

For the diminishing few still with a sense of humor — humor being the most important quality to have in the person you go to a Pacific atoll with . . . if, after reading J. Maarten Troost’s “The Sex Lives of Cannibals,” you still want to go to a Pacific atoll.

For the diminishing few newspapers — and this is one — endeavoring to make sense of bewildering public issues and tectonic cultural shift.

For the latest Great Awakening — the one we are in — maintaining at least a semblance of right reason and sanity in establishment religious denominations.

For a westering sun dappling cotton-ball clouds, breezes soughing in trees, water lapping on the shore. For the nature that, in the Bard’s words, “finds tongues in trees, sermons in stones, books in the running brooks, and good in everything.”

For the implacability of moral right confronted by monstrous wrong.

For an economy — an economic system — so strong and vibrant it can withstand almost any abuse.

For writers still in the business of attacking complacency and ganglionic status quo. Indeed, for writers still possessing the fortitude to say it the way it is and to drive their point home with the finality of a hammer on a nail.

For the coming return of man to the moon — once more the necessary baby step toward The Beyond.

For the opportunity to, let’s see: salvage public education, throttle jihad, diminish illegitimacy and illegal immigration, reverse the flight from religion, conquer cancer and heart disease, reject the fiscal drug of high(er) taxes, and prevent a third Clinton term (Clinton III).

For raising the blinds and bringing light into the room for those too sophisticated and smug to be appalled.

For every remote realm Blackberry cannot reach.

Finally, for families coming together — arriving home — and the sounds of car doors slamming and running feet.

As the Mayflower wayfarers said: In the name of God. Amen.