The Octogenarian: Why to give thanks?

A Thanksgiving message to all, but especially to my atheist and agnostic friends.

It is Thanksgiving time again, and in the ongoing system that causes most events to become exclusionary, there are heavy reminders to give thanks to your deity.  There is nothing wrong with this if you are affiliated with a religion or religious group, but what about the majority of Americans who are either believers without affiliation, agnostic, or atheist.  To whom or what do they give thanks?

I, personally, am affiliated with a religion that claims to be organized (a different topic for future discussion) and I have a long-standing personal relationship with My G_D, with whom I have regular communication consisting of discussion and argument, which I intermittently (read s-e-l-d-o-m) win.  But selfishly, he is My G_d and you can’t have him — he is too busy with me, so get your own.

To my agnostic and atheist friends: you know how I laugh with or at you because you are now becoming almost religious in your organization and protection of your constitutional rights. So, what about Thanksgiving?

First, what you all need is a new dedicated organizer like the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair. If you don’t remember her, she was the lady who almost single handily ended prayer in public schools throughout the 1950’s and 60’s. In 1964, Life magazine named her the hated woman in America. Whatever she was called, it was never Hypocrite.  I knew her to be tough and dedicated.

Look, if in the 21st century, the religious leader of the largest Baptist Mega Church in Houston can go on national TV with a sermon that expresses his personal feelings and beliefs while inciting hatred toward other religions showing himself on the record to be a hypocrite and bigot, and still get the church tax exemption status for the Mega Church that he represents, then why can’t you who are not affiliated with a Deity form your own church like Ms. O’Hair did to teach what you believe and get the same tax breaks? You need another Madalyn Murray to come forth to lead you.

But back to Thanksgiving. Those that know me understand that I am a peculiar duck in many ways. One of which is that I am unable to pray or communicate with My G_d to request anything for me, personally, so for what do I give thanks on Thanksgiving or for that matter, at any time? The answer to that for those of you without official religious affiliation or belief is that you can give the same thanks that I do whether it be to a deity, karma, Charlie Brown, the rising sun or whatever makes you comfortable.

As for me, first and foremost, I am thankful for my personal relationships. I give thanks for what can be considered a somewhat odd relationship between me and Judy, my wife. I am just thankful that she came into my life, and despite the odds against it, she became my bride. Then, there are my children; I am fortunate enough to have a great relationship with six of the seven, and I still love the seventh despite our estrangement.

Add to that the rest of my more immediate family. Now, this may seem peculiar to some but remember this is me.  The rest of my family whom I love dearly is headed by my former wife, Sally, our family matriarch, our seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and all of the spouses and significant others of the preceding.  Add to that my sister and my numerous nieces, nephews, their spouses and/or significant others and their progeny.

Then, there are my Mishpocha or family that are real to me if not related by blood. All of the preceding lumped together make me a very lucky man and each carries his or her own importance for which I give thanks.

I am also thankful for my health. Despite the fact that I wake up very early every morning in pain, the fact that I have been doing so, waking up, for over these past 30,500-plus days, including this morning,  is a miracle for which to be thankful.

I am also thankful for my team of health care providers (Every one of whom Judy searched out, investigated and signed on) and my government for giving me access to Medicare and the VA. I am especially thankful to my supplemental insurance company because of whom I now have the mobility I enjoy.

I am thankful to live in a country that gives me access to so much that is commonplace to us but not available to many in vast parts of the world and a political system that is often bent but never broken and always interesting. I give thanks to my school, this interesting semester and the educators causing that relevance and interest.

I give thanks for my past existence which has molded me into who and what I am today and, as I like me, that is worth being thankful for. I am thankful for the companionship and love of my dogs, and particularly thankful for the direction that gasoline and home heating fuel prices are taking.  I am thankful to still have the ability to fight for change where I think it is needed and for those things in which I believe.

So, listen up guys and gals, when I think about it, I’m just thankful.  As for you, if you are describing my feelings as a bunch of bull-puckey because you feel that your life stinks, well, I’ve been there and done that.

When life sucks, cut off the end of a lemon and draw in the juices and you will realize it can always become bitterer. Be honest with yourself, there is always, always, some way in which you are better off than some other person, so give thanks for what you do have.

And so, as I prepare to munch on that turkey drum stick, I send my love to each and every one of you,

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