Saturday, August 8, 2020 -
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If we could give thanks during the Civil War…

The early twilights, chilly breezes and somber yet beautiful gold, crimson and umber hues of the remaining leaves are unmistakable signs that autumn is fast disappearing, a time when Thanksgiving is imminent.

Was that soothing enough?

We hope that opening paragraph was comforting, pleasantly nostalgic, since we’re fully and painfully aware that a great many Americans are still angry and stressed out after months of acerbic political campaigning, not to mention an election that left most stunned, and some worried about an uncertain future.

We won’t even try to offer soothing platitudes to ease such anxieties. Whether one should be anxious, fearful, hopeful or apathetic is up to the individual. Time alone will tell what the future brings.

What we can do, however, is to encourage Americans, regardless of their political persuasion, to live in the moment of thanksgiving, to try to view Thanksgiving as a wonderful opportunity to take a deep breath, lower the blood pressure and reorient oneself back to what truly matters:

• Gratitude to be living in this great and free nation of America, regardless of the tumults of the moment;

• The warmth of sharing a dinner, and one’s presence, with family, loved ones and friends;

• The ability to take in the subtle beauty of a November sunset on a cool evening.

Whether one sees these things as gifts from G-d or the inexplicable wonders of a random universe, they are very real and very good. Most definitely worthy of our thanks.

When George Washington first proclaimed Thanksgiving, in 1789, he called for the nation to unite in expressing gratitude. This was not long after a deadly and bitter war.

In 1863, soon after the vast bloodshed of Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln institutionalized Thanksiving as a national holiday.

At a time when the land was flowing with rivers of blood, when brothers were pitted against one another, when America was violently divided, Lincoln found a way to share with his “fellow-citizens,” who, for him, included Confederates, the message of unity and expressing gratitude, even in the most trying of times.

Certainly we can muster the will and gratitude to do the same today.

Copyright © 2016 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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