Thanksgiving is over but the spirit of thankfulness it engenders can still linger. I was talking recently to a seasoned senior citizen, someone well past retirement age. She told me the importance that the feeling of gratitude plays in her life. That comment reminded me of my mom. Mom was always telling her children to “count your blessings.” As part of that, she usually added “things could be worse.”
Mom really believed in being grateful for the good things we have in our lives and she wanted her children not to take them for granted. When adversity struck, as it sometimes did, she wanted us to be able to look on the bright side of things before pushing forward. The ability to see the glass as half full, rather than half empty, is an important ingredient in living a happy life, at least that’s the way it seems to me.
I wonder if Bing Crosby may have influenced Mom with his song “Count Your Blessings” from the movie “White Christmas:”
“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. I fall asleep counting my blessings. When my bankroll is getting small, I think of when I had none at all. I fall asleep counting my blessings. … If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”
In that same vein, Abraham Lincoln once said that, “Folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I think that includes counting one’s blessings.
Switching gears, this year Thanksgiving fell on Nov. 22. To any number of people, Nov. 22 will always mark the day President Kennedy was assassinated. This year was the 55th anniversary of that tragedy. When we gathered for Thanksgiving in 1963 six days later, it was a sad time for my family and for people across the country.
In looking back, I found out that the year before in 1962, Thanksgiving fell on Nov. 22. I remember that day because our family watched the Packers versus the Lions on TV. Green Bay had a great team that year. They were undefeated at 10-0 when they rolled into Detroit to play the 7-3 Lions, but the home team completely outplayed them. The final score was 26-14. Only two late Packers touchdowns made the score respectable. The Lions recorded an amazing 11 sacks and forced five Packer turnovers. That was the only Packers loss in their 13-1 regular season. They then beat the New York Giants 16-7 to win their second straight NFL championship. The Super Bowl was still four years in the future.
Watching the Packers’ shocking defeat that Nov. 22 we couldn’t envision that a far more momentous event was just one year away.
The Nov. 22 date for Thanksgiving is the earliest it can occur. For years Thanksgiving was held on the last Thursday of November. However, in 1939 Thanksgiving fell on the last day of November. As Rep. Brian Stewart noted last week, President Roosevelt was concerned that the shortened shopping season after Thanksgiving would hurt the economy. As a result, he moved the date of Thanksgiving up one week. Following his proclamation, some states also changed Thanksgiving to that day, some stuck with the traditional day and two states celebrated it twice (a tough break for turkeys, if you ask me). As a result of the confusion, in 1941 Congress set the date of Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of the November, the day we still observe.
These days, we don’t have to worry about Thanksgiving and when the unofficial “official” Christmas shopping season begins. Besides online shopping, we start seeing Christmas items in the stores in what, September, maybe even August? Last week I went into one particular store and was greeted by Christmas music. No, selling holiday items begins early and continues right past Christmas. We have “Black Friday,” “Cyber Monday,” “Small Business Saturday” and on and on. I wonder what FDR would think of it all. I bet he would marvel at the overall prosperity America has enjoyed following the Great Depression and World War II.
Correspondent Dan Moeller is a retired newspaper reporter and editor who resides in Freeport. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.