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There is always a reason for giving thanks

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by Joe Henderson | Nov 26, 2014


Celebrating a national day of thanks, as the nation will do Thursday, might seem a little weird right now.

The news is dominated by riots, looting and fires after the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. The weather is lousy in much of the nation and getting worse. Our national political leaders apparently believe in governing by polarization.

And according to the latest report in worldhunger.org, 17.6 million households in the United States were “food insecure.” I’m not sure who came up with that term, but I think the translation means a lot of people aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from.

So why celebrate?

Because we are still basically a nation of good people, and that’s reason enough.

My friend Margie Fox, of Temple Terrace, was so excited the other day. She and two of her sisters began raising money in June to buy a wheelchair van for their other sister, Mary, who has lived with cerebral palsy for her 63 years and is a quadriplegic.

She is also more than a little amazing. Among many other things, Mary earned a degree in social work from the University of South Florida.

Her old van, with 157,000 miles on it, was her lifeline to doctor appointments and other necessities, and it was falling apart. That’s when her sisters went to work.

Margie said she knew some of the people who donated money so the van could be replaced. Others, as she noted, are “new acquaintances.”

They all have a common thread of basic compassion.

You know people like that. Give thanks that you do.

Goodness really is all around. Sometimes you just have to look.

Need doesn’t take a holiday, so Metropolitan Ministries will still be feeding and supporting people in Tampa and Pasco County, just like always.

The vital work of caring for neglected and abandoned children goes on at Tampa’s Joshua House, and always with memories of two others for whom our community should perpetually give thanks — Olin Mott and Dottie Berger MacKinnon, both of whom died in 2013.

They were fierce advocates for society’s most vulnerable citizens. Could anyone’s legacy be better?

Today in Sarasota, police will deliver a van filled with shoes, blankets, jackets and other necessities to a homeless shelter called the Resurrection House. Those won’t be the only acts of kindness from one human to another, far from it.

And for all the talk about retail workers forced to work on Thanksgiving at the expense of family time, it’s no holiday for law enforcement and other first responders either.

Emergency rooms will still be staffed.

Nurses will work their hospital shifts to care for the sick.

Doctors will be on call.

And, of course, soldiers will still be stationed abroad and apart from their families. MacDill Air Force Base won’t be closed for the holiday. All of those people give their time to cover our back.

Give thanks for that.

Goodness enriches us every day, although sometimes we forget.

We can and will disagree on how best to deal with issues that affect us all, but that doesn’t mean we have to assume the worst about each other.

If you think about it for a minute, everyone basically wants the same things — health, happiness and hope. Sometimes it just takes a day like Thanksgiving to remind us of that.

No matter what the news of the day may be, we have more in common than we realize. We’re all in this together, folks. Give thanks for that, too.