WASHINGTON -- Thanksgiving is my favorite national holiday, but it is a treacherous one because we are never quite sure what we should be thankful for.
On the plus side, I dearly love Thanksgiving because it is such a truly AMERICAN holiday. There were our poor, freezing forefathers up in New England, trying their best to look thankful for a few scrawny turkeys, some sweet potatoes, and the chance that the Indians would not attack as long as they were sharing in the feast.
I also like the Thanksgiving hymns, especially the lyrical one that sings about the joys of the harvests being brought in. Old hymns, old thanks.
On the negative side, once the actual day is here, I unfortunately become testy, watching certain, unnamed members of our family of friends stuff themselves with the stuffing (until there is barely enough for me!). It had seemed to me that the day was meant for a genteel testing of the different fine dishes one could find in the New World, and not for a carnival of gluttony -- gluttony being, if I am not mistaken, one of the seven deadly sins.
I'm afraid I have made some egregious mistakes of etiquette myself while enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, one being to take a small plastic bag out of my purse to get a little dressing to take home -- hopefully, while nobody was watching. I'm afraid also that I have, on occasion, overdone on the red wine from Chile, although I didn't put any in my purse (at least that I recall).
And, of course, there are prayers. Am I really capable only of praying selfishly for my own success? Or that I might not get sick this year on the cranberries made with my mother's old recipe of red Jell-O? Am I still not capable of praying for something that we ALL would want, like a badminton set for me to play with?
But let us move on now to the lists of the many real things we are truly thankful for.
In my lifetime, I have seen my country, allied with others of course, destroy fascism under many hideous names, predominantly Soviet communism and Germany Nazism.
Although we didn't realize it at the time, after the Second World War came to an end in barely five years, we headed, almost without a breath, into a new age of "small wars" that were to torment our good nation for the next 40 years.
I am not thankful for these small wars, whether it be Vietnam or Cambodia or Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia or Afghanistan. In fact, I curse the special forces with their special designers of these wars -- madness in small places. And President Obama, too. We were so ready to bless him when he came into the presidency because he would get rid of the small wars and make us solvent again, both financially and mentally.
But he didn't. In fact, from the very beginning, he seemed downright dug in on the fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The mystery of his leadership only continues, larger than ever and ever more mystifying.
But there were -- and are -- other big things to be thankful for.
I'm thankful for the liberation of women and for the advancement of civil rights. I'm thankful for countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East that we never dreamed would develop, but have, as America's and Europe's and now China's knowledge becomes their salvation.
I'm happy for cats and dogs, and for tails that wag and ears that crinkle. I can grow trembly over French cooking or even a D.C. cheeseburger. And I can dissolve into tears when I think of my family and my friends. I never met my Rhett Butler, but I've known an awful lot of wonderful men. I know I'm supposed to know a lot about digital media by now, but hey, I'm lucky being able to write this column.
So on Thanksgiving morn, I am NOT going to get up and face a grouchy countenance in the mirror. I'm going to think, "We made it, didn't we?" So, thanks and blessings to all the rest of God's wonderful, crazy, struggling people on this miraculous day.