The Pursuit of Happiness


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are no packages to wrap, no lights to string, and I get to do my favorite second thing – eat. We’ll spend time with friends and our kids and, somewhere in the middle of it all, I’ll fall asleep during the Detroit Lions’ game. When I wake up I’ll eat some more pie. And if there’s work to be done the boss will do it (although I’m available to rustle up a spare chair if needed).

Thanksgiving is the least commercialized of our holidays, and though we spend plenty on food, the day is really about being thankful for the food, and for all our blessings. George Washington caused the first official Thanksgiving to happen in 1789, and Lincoln made it a federal holiday in 1863. In 1941 President Roosevelt fixed the date of Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday in November. I don’t think it’s an accident that our three greatest Presidents understood the importance of giving thanks, and helped to make sure that we do, at least once a year.

I recall two old black and white photographs of my great aunts and uncles celebrating Thanksgiving. The first photo is from about 1936, during the heart of the Great Depression. They’re seated around the farm table looking at a pretty good-sized turkey, and each offers the camera a tightlipped smile. The second photo was taken in about 1945. It’s of the same folks sitting around the same farm table, and they’re looking at another turkey just like the one they ate in 1936. But in this photo, they’re all smiling big movie star smiles. The Depression and WWII are over, for which they are thankful… and they’ve all got brand new dentures and want to show them off.

I have blessings too numerous to count, a wagonload of things for which to give thanks. Among them is the chance to write these weekly letters to you. You’ve been kind to me and indulged me and I am grateful for your time and attention. If you could see my dentures you’d see them framed in a big shiny smile.

God bless, and Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. I am grateful for your continued thoughtful writings. Thank you.
    Your family was similar to many others. Whenever I get to feeling that my gratitude is low on Thanksgiving, I think of my struggling farmer parents. Just before they lost their first farm, they had family coming for the holiday and went out and killed the rooster, so as to have something approximating a turkey on the table. In later years, we would all have to wait to eat until grace had been said and lots of pictures of the turkey had been taken. It represented plenty after there had barely been enough; a hard won lesson in gratitude.

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