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Growing up in Louisa – Thankful for Sure!    

 Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn

Life just keeps getting to be more fun, doesn’t it? Our old bones may ache, and many things that we must do are harder, if not impossible. Things we once took for granted suddenly require our focused attention and some deliberate planning. Maybe a helping hand from someone else is required. Allowing or inviting someone can be a two-way blessing. Learning to receive is a lesson that blesses the giver and helps us validate our humanity. I’m thinking that rather than bemoaning these circumstances, it gives us even more reason to be grateful for what we can still do as well as those things we have accumulated. Our blessings, whether material goods, good health, friends, or a continually growing family, should be remembered as a gift that we are lucky to have. ‘Turkey Day’ is an opportune time to celebrate life and those things that matter most to us.

These days, it’s possible that some of us consider Thanksgiving as a day off from work, or maybe just the day before ‘black Friday.’ To others I know it means ‘football,’ but to me it is the reminder of former times when life was different. The good old days weren’t necessarily better, at least in terms of where we now find our place in life. Thanksgiving is the time for me to show thanks for those things for which I am most grateful.

When I was growing up, we celebrated this holiday by having the family gather around the dinner table for what was an unusually diverse feast, with turkey, dressing, all the trimmings, as well as a selection of pies and other desserts. I remember some families that took turns to allow each person an opportunity to mention the ‘good things’ that had come their way during the last year. Even the kids had things for which they were grateful. Even so, most things remained unspoken, perhaps because they seem minor, or maybe they simply just don’t rise to the level worthy of mention. Maybe because we wanted to get to the meal.

When I think of responding to the call for me to list my blessings, I struggled to come up with unusual, obvious, or dramatic, things that had life-changing meaning to me. I know I remembered many more things afterward, when the pressure was off. I wished I had said this or that, but in truth it isn’t what we say as much as what we feel in our hearts.   

 During this last year our family has added several new members through marriages and births. Our most recent gift has only just been born (11/17). Asher, a male child of one of my sons and his beautiful wife, became our fifteenth grandchild. Suzy and I are so blessed by the bunches of children that run through our home chasing each other with delightful, if earth-shattering, screams. I must admit that sometimes it nearly causes my heart to burst with joy, but at other times they drive me that short distance to reach my whit’s end. Suzy and I both crave the noises, but at the same time, we enjoy an occasional season of quiet, whenever it can be had. Such is life. In our way of thinking, holidays are meant to be noisy times.

When it comes to families, it’s natural that what is a blessing to one of us may be a curse to another. That even applies to the same things when either in the proper context, or when ill-timed. Even within those times when we find life stressful and draining, we know inside that we are still very blessed. I’m reminded of those times when we are left alone in our empty home. After a while we are keen to hear a child’s soft voice or pitter-patter of running baby feet.

Certainly, considering that no family is perfect, life is much like soap operas. No doubt, families, no matter how they are perceived by outsiders, all have private problems. After all, they are made up of people and ALL people have flaws. The greatest blessing is to be forgiven and to forgive.

If we are to list those things for which we are most grateful, we most likely would need some time to meditate and cogitate on the matter. When that time of reckoning comes, should we have a prepared list, or say whatever we might at impulse? Are we grateful for a new toy? Or maybe a new home, another baby, a better paying job? Maybe the ‘easy chair’ is enough. That chair allows a three-year to climb onto my lap. What can be better than that? How many times this year have we frantically prayed for this situation or that? I know several of us visited the hospital for one reason or another, but we finally came home after paying homage to schedules set by others.

As for me, I continue to work full-time, not because I must, thank goodness, but because I was asked to help. Adding value even after my initial retirement, affirms my value and self-worth. For a man, that’s a big deal. I am blessed.

My wife is a lady very much in demand by the family, and by an even larger circle of friends who look to her for wisdom. I am proud of her. Whether she’s sewing, quilting, finding a bargain, cooking a dish, giving advice on medical challenges, finding solutions to problems, or just being there in time to change another diaper, she is so important to the family. Both she and the family are blessed.

To get back to the list, this old man is grateful when electronic gadgets work, the car starts, and we have plenty of milk. I’m grateful no none is hollering at me for this or that, and I’m grateful when someone understands and laughs at my jokes. I’m grateful when a two-year old thinks it is okay to say to me, “You’re silly.” They are right, of course, sometimes I am silly. I’m silly for them. It blesses me when they laugh and tease me back.

I am grateful for my reasonably good health as well as that of my family. Sadly, as in many families, we have a couple of members that are suffering in different ways. It hurts me when others hurt, but we are blessed with knowing it could be worse. In this time of my life I find that a portion of my old friends have passed. I am grateful for their memories, including the laughs, the hugs, and how they greeted me with a smile. They made me think I was important. The smile of a friend when they spot you coming can be so very uplifting. I’ll cherish those times and continue to share them when I can.

I’m reminded that life isn’t so much about our accomplishments, per se, but about the journey and the good times we’ve enjoyed. It’s the people that have helped us and those we’ve somehow helped. A blessing may be a hard lesson learned, but even those give us the credentials to reach out and help others. I’m also grateful for those who brought us meals when we had illnesses, or those who visited and brought positive attitudes that distracted us from despair when life seemed hard. One who stands with you during tough times is a true friend.

I’m grateful for the note of appreciation found on my dresser, and a text with the three magic words ‘I love you.’ So, too, is the writer of that short message of encouragement. It is nice to get a compliment, but nicer still to see when a compliment given, it is appreciated. I’m grateful for the beauty of God’s country, where we can take rides and see the leaves changing, the rain falling, and the waves crashing. I’m grateful for the military and first responders who watch over us twenty-four, seven. I’m grateful for the inventiveness of man and the improvements I’ve seen in my day. I was thinking this morning about how much Tom Jefferson might have appreciated having a side-by-side refrigerator with ice maker and water. His friend, Ben Franklin, hadn’t harnessed electricity yet, so it wouldn’t have worked. In fact, in those days they didn’t even have kitchens in the main house. As our nation’s founders, they had none of the ‘things’ we take for granted, today. We have good reason to be grateful.

I’m also grateful for friends, some of which I have known nearly all my life. I’m grateful for the little town that allowed me to grow up in an innocent and safe environment. I’m grateful for preachers who taught me the Gospel and told me how God loves me in spite of my many flaws, and that He forgives. I need that, for sure.

I am also grateful that I’m being allowed to write this without fear someone may be offended, or that the government may object, or edit my remarks. I’m even more grateful when I discover someone has read something I’ve written. I see more clearly every day that our constitutional freedoms have more value than we fully understand. I’m thankful for them and the wisdom of our forefathers.

Looking backwards over my life, which seems both long and short, there has been so very much to celebrate. Whether we know it or not, we all are blessed. We have lived and had the opportunity to do well, or to fail. In doing so we have made our own mistakes, but we have tried and tried again. Maybe we still fell short of the mark, but we have learned from our mistakes and maintain the hope that we can do better.

I’m not saying it’s okay to burn the turkey. But if it happens, it’s better to show grace and enjoy your peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. I wish for each of you and your families a huge pile of blessings that cannot be easily fathomed. Give it a try anyway. It is good for all of us to remember and give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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0 #4 Terry 2017-11-26 12:45
Wow!! Your story was so heart warming!!!! I was born in my great town of Louisa!!!! I have always loved it!!! Born n the old General Hospital n 1955!!!! I would never live anywhere else!!!!! I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family & loved it as always!!!!
0 #3 Rose 2017-11-22 15:34
Thank you for saying it so well!
+1 #2 Bernard 2017-11-21 21:36
WOW!! Mike such a GREAT article. I could have written the same thing about my youth, being thankful for all the things we have, but can't put it into words like you do. So I am very thankful for my friend who writes these articles each week and makes me happy & recall some of my fondest memories of growing up & life in general. Thanks for the Memories and Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours.
+1 #1 Diane 2017-11-20 14:07
Mike, I make it a habit each morning as part of my daily routine to check out your article. As a former, brief, resident of Louisa and its environs, I check out the obituaries first, then on to see what Mike has to say. I, too, have a lot for which I am thankful.
My salvation (God forgiven, Jesus' blood shed for me); my wonderful husband, Ivan, and two wonderful Christian daughters. The dog is also a blessing, messy, but a blessing.
Happy Thanksgiving and have a God blessed life.

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