Giving Thanks, Laura Ingalls Wilder Style

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A few days ago, I read a thought provoking Thanksgiving article that was written almost one hundred years ago, and I thought I'd share some excerpts from it here. The article is entitled "Thanksgiving Time", and it was published in the Missouri Ruralist newspaper on November 20, 1916. The author was Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote a regular column for the Missouri Ruralist from 1911 through 1924. (For other writers reading this post: looks like even Laura Ingalls Wilder had to do some platform building! Her first book wasn't published until 1932.)

 Laura Ingalls Wilder
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia) 

Wilder began the article by recalling an incident that happened when her family lived on the South Dakota frontier. While her father was out hunting wild geese for Thanksgiving dinner, Laura and her sister Mary got into an argument:

...we quarreled, sister Mary and I, she insisting that there should be sage in the dressing and I declaring there should not be sage in the dressing, until father returned—without the goose! I remember saying in a meek voice to sister Mary, "I wish I had let you have the sage," and to this day when I think of it I feel again just how thankful I would have been for roast goose and dressing with sage seasoning—with or without any seasoning—I could even have gotten along without the dressing. Just plain goose roasted would have been plenty good enough. 

This little happening has helped me to be properly thankful even though at times the seasoning of my blessings has not been just as I would have chosen...

...We are so inclined to take for granted the blessings we possess and to look for something peculiar, some special good luck for which to be thankful...We are nearly all afflicted with mental farsightedness and so easily overlook the thing which is so obvious and near. There are our hands and feet, who ever thinks of giving thanks for them, until indeed they, or the use of them, are lost. We usually accept them as a matter of course, without a thought, but a year of being crippled has taught me the value of my feet and two perfectly good feet are now among my dearest possessions.

Why! There is greater occasion for thankfulness just in the unimpaired possession of one of the five senses than there would be if some one left us a fortune. Indeed how could the value of one be reckoned? When we have all five in good working condition we surely need not make a search for anything else in order to feel that we should give thanks to Whom thanks are due.

I once remarked upon how happy and cheerful a new acquaintance seemed always to be and the young man to whom I spoke replied, "Oh, he's just glad that he is alive." Upon inquiry, I learned that several years before this man had been seriously ill, that there had been no hope of his living, but to everyone's surprise he had made a complete recovery and since then he had always been remarkably happy and cheerful.

So if for nothing else, let's "just be glad that we are alive" and be doubly thankful if... we have a good appetite and the means to gratify it.

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I must confess that I've been feeling rather cranky about Thanksgiving, because the "seasoning of my blessings has not been just as I would have chosen" this past year.
But the no-nonsense advice Wilder offered in this article was a good reminder to rethink the cranky attitude and instead spend the long weekend thanking God for the many blessings I generally take for granted. This includes blessings that many impoverished people in other areas of the world would be thrilled to have:
  • Life itself
  • My husband, children, extended family, and good friends  
  • Our church
  • My ability to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and speak
  • Healthy hands, feet, and limbs
  • Good doctors and modern medicine 
  • Citizenship in this country
  • The right to vote
  • A roof over my head
  • Central air and heat 
  • Reliable cars and paved roads 
  • Food in the refrigerator
  • 24 hour grocery store around the corner
  • Electricity and clean running water
  • Hot showers and indoor toilets
  • Warm bed and blankets
  • Carpeted floors
  • Warm winter clothes and boots
  • Libraries and bookstores
  • My laptop computer and cell phone
  • My children laughing

Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving weekend!



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