Thursday, November 27, 2008


My father first put a Wall Street Journal in front of me in 1964 (and Barrons on Sundays, having waited at Pigeon's(?) Market on Somerville and Taylor streets in Manchester after church each Sunday to see if it had come.) Every year since 1961 the Journal has published the same two Thanksgiving essays; the second contains this passage which holds up well to age.

For it is true that everywhere men turn their eyes today much of the world has a truly wild and savage hue. No man, if he be truthful, can say that the specter of war is banished. Nor can he say that when men or communities are put upon their own resources they are sure of solace; nor be sure that men of diverse kinds and diverse views can live peaceably together in a time of troubles.

But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure. For that reminder is everywhere -- in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.
I don't know when I first read them, but I know I'd feel a loss if the newspaper stopped publishing them. (Mr. Murdoch, do you hear me?)

Mrs. S sings and plays with a group at another church group, a more modern Christian music band than the bluegrass-y and country-ish group we sing and play together with. They chose a Thanksgiving morning service rather than the usual T'day Eve, and in the middle of the service they reflected on how difficult it would be to give thanks in a difficult year as this one has been. And, having read that passage the day before, I thought of this picture from a couple weeks ago:How many other places in the world do you get this?

While we may rue over this long weekend our 101k's, or being one of the 47% whose presidential candidate didn't win, or having lost a loved one to death or divorce, or that terrorism continues to bring pain and suffering into our broken world, there is gratitude for the land we live in, the family and friends around us. And financial troubles do not destroy our dreams in America; they just lead to harder work, more thrift and the knowledge that we live in a place where those those virtues are rewarded. I had almost nothing to do with how the place we live in got to be that way -- in fact, I don't think it's the result of any human plan. For this I give thanks, and to all our readers I wish a Happy Thanksgiving.