Dr. Bill Atwood

Giving thanks on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! This day has been set aside by the government to allow each of us to take time to give thanks for the numerous blessings that each of us enjoys. It isn’t turkey day, it isn’t “t-day” it is Thanksgiving Day and we need to use this day for the intent for which it was created.

We grew up with school plays depicting the pilgrims and the Indians sitting down and sharing a feast to celebrate the first year in the New World. The stories passed down during my generation shared that the Indians had saved the colonists from starvation and the pilgrims wanted to express their joy and thanks.

What is important to remember and to remind the children in our lives that this day is set aside to give thanks to God for our good fortune and our blessings. To be sure, most of us have had pain and suffering during our lives and during this year. What is important to remember is that for all the heartache and problems we are still better off than most people on the planet. I remind my students that since they live in the United States they are far better off than others and that they are not the worst-off Americans. When you consider that 7,000,000,000 think we are better off than they are it reminds us to give thanks for those blessings.

This year, I am thankful for my job at Mariposa High School and I enjoy my position as an adjunct professor at Fresno Pacific University as well as getting to use my First Amendment rights each week in this very column.

My health is great and my wife has had a fairly good year with her many health issues. We have a beautiful home with a great circle of friends and a loving family to enjoy. We have twin great-nephews coming in February or March and those boys will serve to be additional blessings to us just as their older brother Liam is now.

Many avoided losses during recent fires in Madera and Mariposa counties and some of us lost property and friends who died as a result of those fires. It seems difficult to express a feeling of thanksgiving when you have experienced such horrific losses but fear not as there are still many blessings for which you can be grateful.

Last week, a couple in my church gave me a number of coats to share with kids in Mariposa who did not own a coat. It wasn’t a new car and it wasn’t a slew of cash. It was a jacket and at that moment in time, that child needed something to stay warm. A coat was the answer to that child’s prayer. A coat sent by a stranger to an unknown child. The giver expresses their feelings of thanksgiving to God that they are able to afford to gift these jackets and the warmer kid is thankful for the kindness. In the future, I know that many of the kids to whom I delivered these jackets will make it a point to provide a jacket or two or 20 to a child or adult who is cold. The same is true for a ministry of soup that helps feed hungry kids in our two counties.

We gather together to give thanks. Let’s turn off the football, let’s offer our prayers of thanks and then let’s remember to help those who are less fortunate than we.

Happy Thanksgiving!