“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” ~Johannes A. Gaertner
Thanksgiving Day. A day reserved to express our gratitude for all that we have and the lives that we lead. A day to count our blessings and thank God for providing for us. Sadly Thanksgiving today has taken on a different meaning. For many Americans it’s all about having a good time, a chance to party. Each year people travel thousands of miles to be with family and friends for the holiday, not to humbly give thanks to God, but for the food, football games, excessive alcohol and fun.
The entire day is a self gratifying food fest. Yes someone may actually take the time to say grace before the main meal, but how heartfelt is it really? How meaningful are the rushed words of thanks before someone finally shouts, “Lets Eat!” and everyone greedily begins reaching for food. Many Americans are simple too concerned with selfish interest to grasp the true meaning of the day, they’ve forgotten the importance of teaching our children values and the beauty of this time honored tradition.
Six years ago Thanksgiving Day was forever changed for me. Brian, my ‘brother from another mother’, the inspiration for this website, passed away on November 27, 2008. This year Thanksgiving Day falls on the 27th as it it did then. My head is filled with thoughts of him. We had just finished our Thanksgiving dinner when I got the news. I couldn’t believe it. I was sure that there had been some sort of a mistake, but there was no mistake, my very good friend was gone at 56. Brian and I were buds for nearly forty years. We had a lot of things in common, perhaps the fact that we were both Virgos had something to do with our similarities, I don’t know. What I do know is he was a true friend who was there if you needed a hand, no excuses.
I remember once when we were teens, my VW broke down on my way back from the beach. I was out on Hwy 39 somewhere in La Habra Heights. I remember a woman from a nearby home let me use her phone to call for help. Yes people were quite charitable back then. I remember calling Brian’s house and speaking to his mom, after explaining the situation to her she told me that they’d called him into work at Arbys. She said she’d let him know. After a few other calls I finally got hold of my cousin Dave who said he wouldn’t have a car for at least a couple of hours but would come down then, so Dave R. and I settled in to wait.
About an hour later we heard a car that sounded an awful lot like Brian’s VW coming down old 39. The car rounded the bend and sure enough it was Brian and Dave. I had assumed that Brian’s mom had meant she would tell him when he got home from work but she’d called him at work right away and told him about my situation. Brian had clocked out early so he could come to my rescue. He’d brought a length of rope and we were able to tow my VW back to Azusa. It probably wasn’t legal, but we made it back without getting busted. I later learned form his brother that he had nearly gotten fired for leaving work. Good old Bri… anything for a friend.
Yeah Brian was a great guy, my one friend who like me possessed an equally warped and demented sense of humor. Oh a few of the guys came close, but Bri and I were connected, we were twisted! Yeah we had some incredible laughs together!
Now each Thanksgiving Day I’m reminded of his untimely death. It truly saddens me and always will. But the show must go on, so in true Thanksgiving spirit I’m thankful for the time we had together, the good times as well as the tough times we worked through. I’m grateful to God that he saw fit to allow our paths to cross, and our friendship to endure for as long as it did.
One year after Brian’s death my granddaughter Janessa Raylene was born on November 27th, the anniversary of Brian’s death and the day after Thanksgiving. She arrived and filled my sad heart with an abundance of joy that certainly took the edge off the sadness of Bri’s death. This Thanksgiving my little Janessa turns 5 and although it also the day my buddy died I am at peace. Happily Janessa has brought a balance to my feelings. I tell you, God is truly remarkable!
So today as you sit down to say grace before your Thanksgiving feast, Thank God for the gift of life, good health and the family you love. Be grateful for all the blessings He has bestowed upon you and yours, and thank Him too for your friendships, those friends, who, like Brian, are always there should you ever need a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day, but remember to give heartfelt thanks to God for all He is done for us and mean the words, don’t just give lip service. Take the time to reflect on all you have and be grateful for it. Yes, they are indeed the fruits of your labor, but granted by a higher power. This year set an example for your children as to the true meaning of the Thanksgiving tradition. This year and in the year to come, let’s put the “Thanks” back into Thanksgiving…
Sincerest wishes for a warm and meaningful Thanksgiving Day…