Plenty to be thankful for in this season of family and empathy

Sneed: Despite global turmoil, we can see mercy and decency all around us

SHARE Plenty to be thankful for in this season of family and empathy

The Country Shop in Winnetka displays a Thanksgiving theme in one of its windows.

Sun-Times file photo

Once again.

For more than three decades a gratitude list has appeared in this column around Thanksgiving time.

It has been a simple one.

No heavy lifting; just the joys of abundance we take for granted.

Family. Birdsong. Sunrise. Shadows at dawn. A fresh garden carrot. Water.

Giving thanks should never be difficult.

But this year it seemed like a stretch, and the column’s consistent drumroll of reasons to be grateful did feel a bit ... retrofit. Less complex. Too personal.

Well, the world may still be in turmoil and our country still split politically, still simmering with ageism, still beset with gun violence; and still distraught by drugs.

But at our Thanksgiving tables this year, let’s still give thanks for the many things we take for granted that secure the stitches of our crazy quilt nation.

• A brave heart; a kind heart. Mercy.

• Family.

• The unexpected ... and the wisdom to deal with it.

• Magical thinking. Reality.

• Truth. A perfect sentence. A great first paragraph.

• Adjectives. Atonement.

• Forgiveness. Empathy. Listening.

• Living in the present; finding joy in the past.

• Laughter. The hilarious kitchen scene in the film “Moonstruck.”

• Reality: The kitchen scenes in the surprise Chicago FX hit “The Bear.”

• Maple Nut ice cream. Two scoops.

• New friends; old friends and trusting someone to share a secret.

• The freedom of a car; stops along the road.

• Separating fools from folly; wisdom.

• A weeping Katsura tree. Animal tracks in the snow. The click click of Cottonwood leaves in a brisk wind.

• Daydreaming. Fireflies at night; the freedom of democracy.

• A cherished children’s book: “Tubby the Tuba” ... and the lyrics to his tune: “If I went away from me, how unhappy I would be.”

• “The Song of Wandering Aengus” by poet William Butler Yeats; the poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Mary Oliver.

• Trust. Candor. Tempered by understanding.

• The comfort of animals.

• Curiosity. Poker.

• Mincemeat pie. A good crust. Well-baked apples.

• Dusk. Time off. Timeout.

• Newspapers, always.

• Adoption. Birth. Babies.

• Breath. Quiet.

• A smile on a police officer’s face.

• The places in my heart: Riverdale, North Dakota; Marquette, Michigan, Amherstburg, Ontario, O’Rourke’s Pub in Old Town, and a lifetime in the windy city.

• Whistling in the dark; laughing until it hurts.

For all of this, I give thanks ... always.

Of course, Sneed is also thankful for recent news:

• The discovery of the black-naped pheasant pigeon, an orange breasted bird not seen by scientists in 140 years, via a camera trap featuring the first photos taken of it on the small island of New Guinea.

• Beverly residents vowing not to eat “Lucky,” the wild turkey spotted wandering around their village.

• Ukraine, despite their nightmare as the victim of a Russian War, donating 27,000 metric tons of grain to a starving Ethiopia beset by armed conflict in the country’s Tigray region.

• The discovery of a “pay phone” still in existence; on call at the Mount Prospect public library.

• And, lest we forget, gratitude for the brilliant tenure of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who reminded us Thursday of the fragility of our nation’s democracy during the assault on our Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by an angry mob of election deniers — and the voters who stood in the breach and repelled it.

“In doing so “gave proof thru the night our flag was still there,’” said Pelosi, quoting from our “The Star Spangled Banner” anthem.

And, finally, apt words in a time of threat to our nation’s democracy, from the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, who faced despair in a powerful prayer ... hoping God would never leave him to face the unfaceable.

“My Lord God.

“I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. ... I cannot know for certain where it will end. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.”

For all of this, I give thanks ... always.


Brake ’em! The public may have been correct to blast Mayor Lori Lightfoot for parking in a bike lane recently to buy doughnuts. However, let us not give thanks to all those many, many CYCLISTS who have NO trouble invading car lanes and opting out of bike lanes every day! … Saturday birthdays: Blackhawks great Patrick Kane, 34: actor Adam Driver, 39, and actress Jodi Foster, 60. Sunday birthdays: singer Future, 33; singer Kimberley Walsh, 41, President Joe Biden, 80.

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