Thanks for the memories and a lot more

THANKSGIVING isn’t about gifts, except about being grateful for the gifts of family, freedom and community (Shutterstock).

Most of us can’t go over the river and through the woods next week, but if you’re like me, you treasure Thanksgiving as a warm, fuzzy and thoroughly enjoyable beginning to the holiday season.

Christmas, as delightful as it is, has been commercialized and politicized to the point where the original point of the holiday has been obscured. How much more do we see or hear references to Santa Claus than Jesus of Nazareth? And do we need to break the bank or go into debt to buy presents for “Turkey Day”?

Thanksgiving is about delicious (even if high-caloric) food, family togetherness, football and – if you’re smart – a moment to be thankful for the good things in our lives.

So, on that note, here are some things I am thankful for, and maybe a few of you might be grateful for them, too.

  • First, and foremost, my beloved wife Marilyn, and the rest of our family and friends, from the very mature to the almost-out of diapers. I may get a bit Grinch-y from time to time, but they truly are treasures. Yeah, and the dogs, too.
  • I’m thankful for my health. So many of my generation are struggling with serious medical issues, or have gone to The Other Side. At this point, I am delighted to still be upright and mobile, despite a slowing of my step and a few embarrassing gaps in my memories of popular songs from my youth.
  • Being an American, and all that means. My people came from Italy a hundred years or so ago, leaving a rocky land of poverty dominated by the rich landowners who kept most of the folks there living in near-serfdom. Here I am free to think, speak and act as my conscience tells me, and rise (or fall) based on my smarts and ability (and willingness) to work. Despite its flaws, America is still the indispensable nation. When things go bad – ethnic cleansing, climate change, ruinous hurricanes or earthquakes – the world asks, “What are the Americans going to do about it?”
  • My hometown. Quite by accident, I was planted in Garden Grove at age 7 when my folks moved here. I had the privilege to grow up in a cozy town with the sleepy charm of a Mayberry or Grovers’ Corners, located close to the magical lure of The Happiest Place on Earth and just a half-hour or so from the most gorgeous beaches on the West Coast. As the city and I grew, there were opportunities and experiences that enriched my life and continue to expand my horizons. Some people spend their whole lives searching for a sense of community. I found mine just by looking around.

Ok, so I am a bit sentimental every November. I am skeptical about many things in my life. But I don’t sneer at the turkey and the stuffing; they remind us of the simple pleasures and point us toward the “most wonderful time of the year.” There’s no wisdom in scoffing at any of that.

Jim Tortolano’s Retorts column is posted on alternate Wednesdays.

Categories: Opinion

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