robert

Thanksgiving is a time when we push back from a bountifully-laden table and reflect upon the many blessings bestowed upon us by the Good Lord.

Each one of us has a different Thanksgiving story, as each one can step forward and share what he or she is most grateful for this time of year.

This writer is so very thankful for a wonderful family that encourages and lifts him up each and every day.

After living for more than a half century-plus upon this earth, I am blessed with a loving wife, a precocious but adorable teenager and a large extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins and brothers and sisters — including an older sister who has shared all the joys and sorrows, disappointments and triumphs that siblings and families experience and share.

My father, now almost 90, is still as mentally sharp and alert as ever, although his physical health has been on the decline for several years. I can close my eyes and still smell the faint scent of Sir Walter Raleigh smoking tobacco and visualize him blowing smoke rings in the air as he puffed on his favorite meerschaum pipe, with his muddy boots propped up on the brick hearth in our living room before a crackling fire. And of him walking in the woods on a dark, crisp evening, his green felt Stetson scratched with the indentations of a thousand brambles and thorns, with the crunch of sugar maple and hickory leaves under his feet and me, his son and namesake, set high on his shoulders, as our beagle dogs bayed bellicosely at a harvest moon.

Thanksgiving is often a bittersweet time for many and I am no exception.

The day after Thanksgiving, more than 24 years ago, my mother Sylvia lapsed into a coma following an epileptic seizure and she would not regain consciousness again, this side of glory, passing away just a few days after the arrival of the New Year.

The holidays, including Thanksgiving, are a difficult time for our family as we think of her but they are also an intensely joyous time when we take stock of her life and what she meant to us all.

I am most thankful for the memories I have of her — her soaring soprano voice on Sunday mornings and gentle lullabies at night — as well as fond memories of other family members this Thanksgiving — of enjoying my mother’s delicious turkey and succulent, sage-seasoned dressing, my grandmother’s frozen cranberry salad — with a dollop of homemade mayonnaise on top — my sister’s gourmet casserole and other treats, and the intangible gifts that linger like my minister grandfather’s Thanksgiving dinner prayer, which was so long, drawn-out and deeply profound that I thought the Thanksgiving turkey would just up and fly away before I could stick a fork in my share of the bird.

This Thanksgiving season, I am a man blessed beyond measure with friends, both old and new, a church family which has welcomed our family into the fold like long lost kin, and readers far and wide, who remind me daily the honor I enjoy of being read in their homes on a regular basis.

I am thankful for my newspaper family — the people with whom I have had the pleasure of working for nearly two decades now.

We, too, have shared our ups and downs over the years and yet we still come together each Thanksgiving eve, to lay down the printed word for all to absorb and contemplate.

We each depart to our respective houses to bask in the glow of our loved ones and eat more than our fill of the bounty we have been provided.

We will return to our keyboards the next day to tap out the testament of the human condition, which sadly involves loss, violence, gentleness, goodness, mercy, triumph and disappointment — along with love, peace and joy.

In a world which moves at lightning pace, Thanksgiving affords us all the time to slow down, shut our eyes at all the noise and confusion around us, and focus on what really and truly matters.

For this, all of us should truly be thankful.

ROBERT LEE LONG  is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, ext. 252.

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