Featured image: Imprint from my new hiking boots. Let’s go!
Cornwall Cogitation (North America) #9 Saturday 25 November 2017 Thanks. What’s to be said about thanks? Here are some of my cogitations.
Thanks for public spaces through which to wander
Thanks for family memories
My grandfather, Solomon, at the end of the meal used to say, “Let us return thanks.” We had much to be thankful for besides the food, including conversation and games around their kitchen table.
We continue to be grateful for opportunities to make memories with family and friends near and far. Over the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend we get together for an early Christmas gathering with the extended Bender family in Ontario. At noon the 40-50 of us gather, greet, talk, eat, play and do the left-overs thing in the evening. Wonderful tradition.
Thanks for the holiday
Once a year in the U.S. and Canada there’s a day set aside to give thanks for divine goodness. In the U.S. the legal holiday falls on the fourth Thursday of November; in Canada it’s the second Monday in October.
You may have seen the Blondie cartoon this week where Elmo asks Mr. B whether the Pilgrims ate pizza at their first Thanksgiving. Dagwood’s reply suggests that pizza probably wasn’t invented yet at that time. To which the crafty Elmo responds, “Would it be possible to be thankful in a world without pizza?” Next frame, Dagwood, while he and Elmo chomp on pizza, says to a puzzled Blondie, “It’s our Pilgrim tribute, honey.” She responds, “I think I’ll stay out of this one.”
In September, 15 years ago, we attended a Harvest Festival at a small church in Gorran Haven, Cornwall, UK. The church display was a visual feast and the service a spiritual banquet. Fresh produce, flowers, and canned food filled the altar, window sills and floor. I don’t remember much of the music or homily, but I do remember the sense of thanksgiving and joy that pervaded the congregation as we celebrated God’s abundant provision to be shared with those less fortunate.
The Pilgrims brought the idea of a harvest thanksgiving from England to North America. Apparently the first Thanksgiving, shared with Indians at Plymouth Plantation, included goose, lobster, fish and deer.
Thanks for the everyday practice of saying thanks
Of course, every day merits giving thanks. Even in times of difficulty and disappointment we can find something thankworthy.
Besides the celebrative rituals of thanksgiving, I’m interested in the ordinary, daily, ways the terms thank you and thanks are used.
According to my trusty, if aging, Fowler’s Modern English Usage (Oxford University Press, 1983), the word thank you “. . . tends more and more to be lengthened with or without occasion into thank you so much, or thank you very much, often with the addition of indeed for good measure. Thanks is a shade less cordial than thank you, and many and best and a thousand thanks and thanks awfully are frequent elaborations of it; much thanks is archaic. . . . The colloquial variant Thanks a lot is becoming popular. If an acknowledgement of thanks is felt to be needed it will be Don’t mention it, or Not at all or, in U.S., You’re welcome.”
Thanks for prayers of thanks
To extend the thanks theme, I’ve selected three prayers from Blessed Be Our Table, by Neil Paynter (Wild Goose Publications, Glasgow, 2003).
Thank you, heavenly Father,
for people who prepare meals each day.
Thank you for cooks and those who wash up.
Thank you for those who serve tea and coffee.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
God of community
God of community —
God of the here and now —
thank you for gathering us
under one roof
and around many tables.
Thank you for giving us
a healthy hunger
and good food.
-Jan Sutch Pickard
Thank you for our day
Thank you for our day,
and sorry for times that were hard,
Please help us all to live in peace and love.
–da Noust, members and friends of L’Arche Edinburgh, a community welcoming adults with learning disabilities in a life shared with assistants and other members whose time is a gift.
Thanks for insights on language
I’ve had fun, and some puzzlement, reading Daniel Tammet’s newest book, Every Word is a Bird we Teach to Sing (Little, Brown and Company, 2017). I say puzzling because there were sections I wanted to skip but ended up skimming and which led me to chapters that delighted, having to do with the mysteries and meanings of language.
Doctors eventually informed Tammet that it was his high-functioning autism that separated him from the language spoken around him. He writes, “I thought and felt and sometimes dreamed in a private language of numbers.”
Tammet is an essayist, novelist, and translator. He lives in Paris.
Thanks for essays by senior adults
Are you listening is a book of essays by Ontario senior citizens on what it means to be a senior (Office for Senior Citizens Affairs, Government of Ontario, 1988).
The writers speak of freedom, gratitude for good health care and a regular Old Age Pension cheque from the government, time with others, time alone, and of losing a loved one through age or war.
One writes of the need and opportunity to learn. “I can live to give Methuselah a run for his money and still be learning, learning, learning.” -Rae Bennett, Kingston.
M. Elizabeth Chalmers, from Thunder Bay, wrote: “Being a senior means that we have received the ultimate gift of having a present in which to live, a past to remember and the future to anticipate.”
“Maybe a senior is a complete person. Yes, loving God, ourselves and our neighbours as ourselves should do it.” -A. Adamzyk, Renfrew
“It is with consternation that I realize I have 24-year-old grandchildren. How did they get so old, while I remain so young” -Owen Going, Port Colborne
“Glad to remember the good times and sensibly forgetting many of the bad times.” -Joan G. Smith, Stratford
Thanks for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Passed by Congress on Septe3mber 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791. The first 10 amendments form the Bill of Rights. Here’s the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Long live freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition!
Thanks for beauty over water, land and sky
Happy thanks giving and thanks receiving!