For Release November 26, 2002

Plenty To Be Thankful For!

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

One of my favorite holiday movies is a Bing Crosby black and white classic called Holiday Inn. (Which any movie buff can tell you is the movie that introduced us to the now famous song, White Christmas.) In Holiday Inn, Bing plays an entertainer who is trying to have a nightclub open only on holidays. The song for Thanksgiving is, of course, I Have Plenty To Be Thankful For. The beauty of the song is its simplicity. All the things that Bing sings about are the simple things in life that we take for granted. They arenít material possessions, but things like freedom and fresh air and family and friends.

As Americans, we find it very very easy to be materialistically driven. If we werenít, there wouldnít be so many advertisements. We are a great country that grew to where we are today because of capitalism. Iím not putting that down or degrading the United States. But if we are not careful, we can quickly get caught up in that materialistic grab fest. We have to get it before the next person does if we want to stay ahead.

Yet we, as a society, often seem to be very unhappy and discontented. By global standards we live as royalty. And yet we are still unhappy and we still want more. Maybe thatís because we are constantly being bombarded in print, audio and video by what we donít have. What if we take a few hours to turn off the outside voices and start focusing on what we do have. If you think that you donít have very much, just start trying to do a home inventory. Youíll realize in a hurry how much "stuff" you have. Then start looking at how much you have that you hardly ever use. That should humble you in a hurry.

Weíll sit down, on Thanksgiving Day, to feasts of epic proportions. Most of us will consume much more food than can be justified by the amount of work weíll do. Weíll sit at meals dictated by tradition and desire: turkey, ham, dressing, green beans, cranberries, squash or sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy and then one of a dozen different dessert possibilities beginning with pumpkin pie more than likely. Yet even in our own country we have people starving and families that wonít be able to afford this holiday feast. Right now, in a country in southern Africa, half of its seven million population is at risk of starving over the next six months.

We truly do have plenty to be thankful for. Many of us will travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, to be with family. We wonít have to drive through police checkpoints to do so. We wonít worry about suicide bombers or roving bands of radical militant groups. Our biggest threat will probably be a driver who imbibed a little too much and got behind the wheel of a car. Yet will we even think about that freedom to travel and having the wherewithal to afford that travel?

Find yourself a quiet place and time this week and start to think, to really think, about how much you have to be thankful for. Iím thankful for my job and the people I work with both in my office and outside of my office. Iím thankful for all the opportunities that I have had and I know that I could die tomorrow and still feel blessed because of those opportunities and the people who are around me every day. Come Thanksgiving Day, I will not focus on what I donít have, but rather I will focus on who I am with and the good food and the good memories that come with each and every minute spent with friends and family. Because like Bing said, "Iíve got plenty to be thankful for!"


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