Giving Thanks

Faye Harris
Local Columnist

COVID, loneliness...where’s the money coming from for our bills, Christmas gifts, basic necessities , food...and the list can go on. Know something? The list for one’s blessings is even longer. Think about it. Stop and take stock.

My Grannie used to have a favorite word. It was FOCUS.

If Gran was here today (she ‘graduated’ many years ago) I’d have to add ‘on the positives’ to her word. So often we allow the negatives in our life to take precedence over the myriad of positives that are just lying there waiting for our recognition.

I was reminded of this oversight while I was on my daily walk. I saw two men, one older, the younger just starting out on his trek through life. Each was just putting in another day. They were both alone.

My walk often begins in the large adjoining parking lots of two fast food places. This area is safer as the day begins because the roadside early in the morning sees a lot of people who are hurriedly on their way to work. They aren’t concentrating on walkers.

One of these parking lots is often visited by an older man and his cart full of belongings. This gentleman often visits the garbage bins looking for half eaten food. To him, this is his meal for the day.

I know nothing about this man but his eating habits. It makes me feel thankful for the refrigerator and cupboards at home with clean, fresh foods...just waiting for my call on them. Something to add to my list of positives...that began in a warm bed inside the house I call ‘home.’

While this man’s clothing seldom differs...my washing machine and dryer are always just sitting there waiting for the electricity needed to do their job...just another blessing that I take for granted.

The younger man actually has an old car...which he calls ‘home.’ He sleeps in it.

Actually this man began working at one of the food places two weeks ago. That’s when I first noticed his car was setting in the parking lot...a shield of some kind over the wind shield to block the light so he could sleep. That car is moved daily from one space to another...

He tells me that soon he’ll have enough money saved to rent a room. From there it will all be uphill. (He’s a positive thinker.) When I told him there was probably a place he could go to for some financial help he said he didn’t need it. “I’ve got a job now.”

Both of these men have the same difficulties as many of us have. I’ve wondered where their families are...but that’s for them to either ask for help or to experience the status quo. The current pandemic I’m sure has made more of us aware of how different people deal with the same problems.

A friend of mine works for an organization that deals with the homeless. She and a man from her office go into various ‘woods’ once a month with social security checks for some of these men. Some of these men are veterans...others live in various tents by choice. We are all different...there is a lot more

mental illness out there than I ever realized. The mind is more in control than any Physical disability. (One of my acquaintances is severely handicapped...hunched back and walking with difficulty...yet as a positive thinker...she works at a regular job. The difference between her and some others...she has a brother who cares for her and has bought her a trailer of her own which he’s put in the back of his property. Loving family can often make a difference in allowing one to be a positive thinker. This woman is thankful for her brother!)

I have a wonderful friend, Wanda. She and I sat down one day with pencil and paper and began listing the positive things in our life. She forgot about her bad back and I forgot about the reorganizing of my storage room. The feeling of just being together...yet another thing to be thankful for...reminded me of Granma’s word...FOCUS. There’s so much to be thankful for...

Perhaps we’ve been looking at Thanksgiving Day as a time when we can eat until we’re stuffed...usually shared with family/friends...a day when the Pilgrims (thankfully) celebrated by having some Indians over for supper.

Thanksgiving should be more than just a once a year event. We live in America...to start with. Look at how many people are willing to give their life to live here. We live where we can get medical help if we need it, regardless of our illness. (For me...we live in a country where garage sales are plentiful!) We live in a country where we can vote, we can afford cell phones to keep us in touch with friends and family...we can afford snacks (fattening and healthy)...and the list goes on.

We just need to remember...it really is up to most of us...to take advantage of all the opportunities that are out there just waiting for us to get started...OR as Gram would remind us...we can do anything if we just FOCUS. And...

We should always remember the word “thanks” when we are given the chance to make our life the one we wanted. It really is up to most of us. Plus those who have succeeded must always remember that someone probably helped them along the way. We should help when we can, even if it is only to encourage another...such as I tried to do with the young man who slept in his car while working toward his dream.

Oh, yes...as I end this column I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the editors of the papers that carry my columns...those who taught me to read and write...those who encourage me with their emails with comments (both positive and in making corrections)...and a first year, male teacher who sent my first column to the Chicago paper...whose publication encouraged me to live a part of my dream...as I began my writing career 49 years ago.