Things I’m Grateful For


shutterstock_157218698“Who is happy?” asks a sage in the great Jewish wisdom compendium “Sayings of the Fathers.” Answer: “He who is contented with his lot.”

And how, with Thanksgiving Day beckoning, do you acquire contentment when you are constantly barraged with evidence that others have more beautiful possessions, are better looking, more talented, healthier, more admired, more loved, more valued? I count my blessings.

Here is a partial list of what I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving, 2015.

I’m grateful for abundance. At Thanksgiving, the cornucopia — a symbol of plenty since antiquity — is everywhere, and rightly so. But every day is one of copiousness for us. This is not to discount the poor state of economic growth, the loss of good, middle class jobs, or other troubles. But I’m talking about the kind of riches we enjoy rain or shine.

We can browse the aisles of our supermarkets and choose this tray of raspberries or that sprig of thyme. Don’t like the selection of papayas at this store? There’s a competitor two miles away who might have what you’re looking for. Can’t find it in your local emporium? Dash to your computer and have it shipped if it’s worth the shipping price. You can often have it by tomorrow.

For nearly all Americans and nearly all residents of the industrialized world, the basics of life — food, clothing, and shelter — can be taken for granted. Yes, there are hungry people in every country, but those are special situations usually involving mental illness, child or elder abuse, or other rare circumstances (and there are thousands of charities and government programs dedicated to alleviating their suffering). The major food problem for the developed world’s poor is not starvation but obesity. When my stomach grumbles, I feel grateful to know that it will be a matter of minutes, or at most hours, before I will be satisfied. In fact, in my whole life, the longest I’ve gone without food involuntarily (that is, not counting Yom Kippur) is probably six hours (due to travel delays). In the whole history of humanity, what percentage of human beings could say that?

I’m grateful that most people are honest most of the time. Staying with the supermarket theme for a moment, I once stupidly forgot to load my groceries into my car before driving on home, humming a tune and doubtless thinking of my next column topic. It took ten minutes to drive back. I hadn’t any worries that the food would be stolen.

My son lost his keys at his college last week. Some Good Samaritan turned them in to the lost and found.

America has many troubles, and the polarization of our politics and culture worries me. Yet in my personal life, I have thriving relationships with people on the other side of the political divide. They know that when they tell me about attending a Bernie Sanders rally, I’ll need to suck in oxygen. But that doesn’t prevent us from getting along just fine — and better than fine. Some are even relatives.

I’m grateful to have discovered that personal development is a lifelong process. I’m referring not just to having started cello lessons four years ago and now being able to make sounds that don’t cause neighborhood squirrels to wince, but that I’m still learning how to be a better person. I’m a better conversationalist today (I like to think) than I was a few years ago, despite being mentally sharper then. See, that’s part of what I’ve learned. People you’re chatting with don’t want to be dazzled by your intellect, they just want you to show some interest in them. (And if they are only looking for intellectual fireworks, the heck with ‘em.)

I’m grateful for generous, warm colleagues and stimulating friends. I’m deeply thankful that medical advances continue (since this is a column about gratitude, I’ll refrain from excoriating Obamacare), and that my son who has Type I diabetes will soon acquire a device, a continuous glucose monitor, that he can insert under his skin once a week. Instead of having to check his blood sugars four-to-six times a day with a finger stick, he’ll need to stick himself only once every 12 hours, and the CGM will send blood sugar reports to his iPhone every five minutes. This is miraculous, and bids to get even better in the future.

I’m so grateful for my three sons and my buoyant husband, who, after 25 years, still makes me laugh almost daily. This is, as I mentioned, a very partial list of blessings. I could easily list my crotchets and complaints. But who is happy? He who is contented with his lot.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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  1. cdor Member

    Very nice Mona. I think I can safely say that I speak for all of us at Ricochet when saying that we are very thankful for you. So for you and your family, here’s wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

    • #1
  2. Matthew Roy Inactive
    Matthew Roy

    Mona Charen:“Who is happy?” asks a sage in the great Jewish wisdom compendium “Sayings of the Fathers.” Answer: “He who is contented with his lot.”

    I find it so easy to overlook this simple, yet powerful truth, in my day-to-day life. Thank you for the reminder.

    • #2
  3. iWe Coolidge

    I am grateful for this nation that still tolerates me, my family, my people. We are having a lot of immigrants at our Thanksgiving dinner, and based on past performance, I can tell you that they are moved to tears with appreciation for the United States of America.

    • #3
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller

    Well said.

    And to Whom are we thankful?

    • #4
  5. Bob L Member
    Bob L

    Aaron Miller:Well said.

    And to Whom are we thankful?

    The all-powerful.  And by that, I mean big government, obviously.

    • #5
  6. tabula rasa Inactive
    tabula rasa

    Nicely put, Mona.  For the most part, I live a wonderful, satisfying life.

    It’s easy to complain (and legitimately complain about the depredations committed by liberals on America).  At the same time, I have so much more to be grateful for, especially my eight brilliant grandchildren (who are, I say with great confidence, the most wonderful kids in the history of kids).

    • #6
  7. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat

    Thanks Mona for a beautiful post. I’m thankful to have a job, money to buy food, a car, thankful for family and friends and that we’re all ok this year, thankful for heat, a comfortable bed and clean clothes, a hardworking, kind husband, a lovely home in a safe town, and for freedom.

    • #7
  8. Raizy Inactive

    Jews are called Yehudim from the Hebrew root hoda’ah, which means thanks.

    First generation American Jew thankful and oh so grateful to live in a country where freedom of religion is taken for granted.

    G-d bless the USA.

    • #8
  9. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha

    Thank you for all your columns and contributions to Ricochet this year. Even when I’ve passionately disagreed with you I’ve always looked forward to your perspective.

    • #9
  10. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot

    Wonderful post Mona, thank you. I’m thankful that I have come to know you through Ricochet – you brighten my life. I’m thankful for all the gifts God has bestowed on me and my family – I am blessed beyond reason. In these perilous times I give thanks for my freedom here in the greatest country in the world.

    My Thanksgiving prayer, that I ask you and all of Ricochet to join in praying, is to give thanks to God for the abundance he has bestowed on us, for the freedom we have, and to pray for the defeat of the jihadist wickedness that has declared freedom its mortal enemy.

    God bless you and all of Ricochet.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    • #10
  11. Susan the Buju Contributor
    Susan the Buju

    I, too, am grateful for so much, Mona: a loving husband who makes me laugh, friends who love and forgive me and support me through hard times, opportunities to live a life that my grandparents could never have imagined. The blessings are too many to count; thank you for sharing yours.

    • #11
  12. Caleb J. Jones Inactive
    Caleb J. Jones

    Does anyone else remember the old Bing Crosby (written by Irving Berlin–there’s another reason to be grateful right there; thanks so much for so much beauty, Mr. Berlin) song with the lines:

    When I’m worried and I can’t sleep

    I count my blessings instead of sheep.

    And I fall asleep counting my blessings.

    Works for me, too, almost always. Thank you again,  O God of our Fathers.

    • #12
  13. Mole-eye Inactive

    Odd experience today at grocery store – I had been doing some blessing counting while shopping, and in my enthusiasm said to the register clerk “Isn’t it great to live in a country like this?”  The clerk, a man of maybe 35, made a face and said disparagingly, “Well, sometimes.  Then, as I stared, he added in a similarly grumpy tone, “Most of the time I guess.”    I replied, “Well at least we’re not refugees freezing in a camp in Rumania.” and kept pushing my cart out of the store.

    I wonder, are there people who have actually forgotten that not everyone has a clean bed to sleep in, a full tummy, a country at peace and pure water to drink?

    • #13
  14. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen

    Bless you all for the comments. I’m getting a little teary reading them. One more thing I’m thankful for: Ricochet!

    • #14

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