As the Thanksgiving celebration rolls around again, we hear people complaining that it’s a meaningless holiday because we have little to be thankful for. Who cares what happened 390 years ago to a bunch of Pilgrims? If they decided to move to a wild new country without knowing what they were getting into, how does that apply to our lives today? Should we be thankful we’re suffering through a recession? Harumph.

Perhaps some people feel that way, but I could tell you about a ton of things I’m thankful for. Let me start with my furnace. That’s right, I’m thankful to have a fire-breathing monster in my basement that keeps my house warm during the winter months. Once I set the thermostat, I don’t have to lift a finger.

Back in the olden days, people had to heat their houses (castles, cottages, cabins, shacks, caves, or hovels) by burning wood or coal in the fireplace. When they woke up in the morning, the house would be cold and they would have to roll out of bed, bundle up, throw some logs and tinder in the fireplace, light it, then wait half an hour for the room to warm up enough to get on with their day. Nowadays, the furnace comes on while we are still asleep, and has the bedroom at a comfortable temperature when the alarm clock goes off. How’s that for modern conveniences?

I’m thankful for my car. It calmly waits for me outside on the driveway. I can slide behind the wheel, slam the door, stick the key in the ignition, and off we go. In the olden days I would have to keep my horse in the barn, feed it every day, saddle it up in the morning, and ride to work outside in the wind and rain. Now I ride in comfort, regardless of the weather.

I’m thankful for my grocery store. I even have a choice of grocery stores in my neighborhood, a selection of five different regional chains to choose from. When I go there I can find a wide variety of foods and supplies that would have seemed unbelievable to my grandmother, when she went shopping only 30 years ago.

I’m thankful for my job. I’m thankful that my employer provides me with a nice building where I can do my work alongside my colleagues. I’m thankful for my fellow employees who do their jobs while I do mine. We work together as a team and produce our products for sale around the world. I’m thankful for all the people who work for other employers, or the people who are the employers. Together we create the products and services that everybody uses in our daily lives. We all live in a division of labor society where each individual works in his own narrow specialty to create his particular product or service, which he will pass along to his customer. At the end of the day your work has created something new that was not there the day before. In this way we create the wealth that becomes the assets of civilization. This principle is the famous “invisible hand” of commerce that was first described by Adam Smith in 1776.

Yes, I’m thankful for all the folks who work at the grocery store, who stock the shelves and run the checkout counters. I’m thankful for the people who built my car. I’m thankful to the employees at the company that manufactured my furnace. I’m thankful for the Pilgrims who decided to take a chance for a better life on the frontier, free of the persecution they had experienced in their former countries. They showed they could survive while seeking personal freedom, and they planted the seeds that grew into a new republic, the fruits of which we enjoy today.

So, when you are sitting around the dinner table with your family and friends on the day of Thanksgiving, enjoy your day off from work. Enjoy the fragrance of that roast turkey you brought home from the grocery store. Enjoy the sights, sounds, feelings and companionship you experience in your prosperous life. Remember your blessings. Praise the Lord and pass the cranberry sauce.

Later, John.

 

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