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Give Thanks For Life

by Daniel O’Rourke

Obviously, thanksgiving means giving thanks. On Thanksgiving Day we typically give thanks for the harvest, for the food before us, for our families and friends. Of course we should continue being thankful for all that. In past columns on this feast day, I have often advised us to do so.


I have suggested also that we look at the wider world and be grateful for what we Americans have. I once quoted an anonymous author that stated it powerfully. “If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change somewhere in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy. If you can read this, you are more blessed than over two billion people around the world who cannot read at all.”

This Thanksgiving Day, however, I’d like to suggest thanking God for some even more basic things. In this I am indebted to the Tiny Buddha website, which lists “60 Things to be Grateful for in Life.” Readers, however, should relax I will only focus on some key fundamentals that merit our gratefulness. For as the novelist and essayist Cynthia Ozick warns us, “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”

Here are some of those things. How about being grateful for our parents and grandparents (whether living or dead)? Despite their limitations, failings and faults (and all our parents have them), our parents gave us life. Think of it: life!

Be thankful for the sense of sight, for the ability to see the colors, shades and hues of nature. For our ability to hear: to hear the rain on the roof, to hear music, which lifts our spirit and sooths our souls, and to hear the voices of those we love.

And how about being thankful for the sun, the moon and stars, which bring light and beauty to day and night?

As we enjoy this feast day meal, how about our sense of taste? Be thankful for the ability to savor the sweetness of the pie, the tartness of the cranberries, and the spiciness of stuffing. To experience the warmness of gravy and the coldness of ice cream.

Be thankful for your heart: for its constant pumping of blood to all parts of your body even before you were born. And how about being grateful for your hands, which can type on your computer, flip the pages of books, drive a car, or touch those you love.

We should be grateful for books themselves, which bring us wisdom and enjoyment. For your school, which provides or provided an environment to learn and grow and for the dedication and help of teachers and professors.

Let us be grateful for our homes: for our beds, bathrooms, family rooms and kitchens. Many in the world have none of these. We should not take them for granted. They help keep us alive – and life is the greatest gift of all.

I conclude with a version of World Hunger Grace. It’s from the Girl Scout “Our Chalet Song Book.” Even if we don’t pray these words as we sit at table, we should give them thought.

For food in our world, where many walk in hunger,
For peace in our world, where many walk in fear,
For hope in our world, where many walk alone,
For light in our world, where many walk in darkness.
We give You thanks, O God.

Retired from the administration at State University of New York at Fredonia, Daniel O’Rourke lives in Cassadaga, New York. His column appears in the Observer, Dunkirk, NY on the second and fourth Thursday each month. A grandfather, Dan is a married Catholic priest. His new book, “The Living Spirit” is a collection of previous columns. To read about that book or send comments on this column visit his website


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