“Thanksgiving is here, so our minds have turned / To what time has taught us, to what we’ve learned: / We often focus all our thought / On shiny things we’ve shopped and bought. / We take our pleasure in material things, / Forgetting the pleasure that friendship brings. / If a lot of our stuff just vanished today, / We’d see the foundation of each happy day / Is special relationships, constant and true, / And that’s when our thoughts go directly to you. / We wish you a Thanksgiving you’ll never forget, / Full of love and joy — your best one yet!”

– Joanna Fuchs

The past few days two songs have been on my mind. With each season I start thinking about the holidays and music associated with them. When I have a problem falling asleep, it helps as I put away the concerns of the day, relax, and change my thoughts.

Here are two Thanksgiving favorites. One I have known from childhood is “Come, Ye Thankful People Come,” a church hymn. I suspect many already know that one. Another much more recent song is by Josh Groban, “Thankful.” Part of it goes:

“Somedays, we forget to look around us / Somedays, we can’t see the joy that surrounds us / So caught up inside ourselves / We take when we should give. / So for tonight we pray for / What we know can be. / And on this day we hope for / What we still can’t see. / It’s up to us to be the change / And even though we all can still do more / There’s so much to be thankful for. / Look beyond ourselves / There’s so much sorrow / It’s way too late to say, I’ll cry tomorrow / Each of us must find our truth / It’s so long overdue / … Even with our differences / There is a place we’re all connected / Each of us can find each other’s light / … It’s up to us to be the change / And even though this world needs so much more / There’s so much to be thankful for.”

Each year for most of my life, I’ve made a “thankful list” for that particular year. I wish I would have kept them, but perhaps it’s better that I didn’t, for it gives me a chance to ponder anew and list items one by one.

Here are a few items on my list for 2019. They are not prioritized but random as they pop into my mind as I write this column.

On my desk, next to the computer, is a little saying that I look at daily as I sit down and turn on my PC. It states, “I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that TODAY I can choose to be happy and full of life.”

At age 81, retired, and dealing with various ailments that come with aging, I still arise early in the mornings and go upstairs to our loft. Jane has her office at one end, and we have a large ping-pong table that our grandkids like to play on as well as a small TV next to my treadmill. I have a stack of papers with illustrated exercises that long-time friend Charles Acevado prescribed for me at Logan Physical Therapy. These have helped a lot over the years, and the sheets increase as new aches and pains arise. Doing them as I listen to the morning news passes the time. I then walk on the treadmill for a half mile, rest for a few minutes, and then shower, eat breakfast, and get myself ready for the day.

My first stop thereafter is my computer and following up on emails with my family and others. Later, a short morning nap, lunch, and more computer or reading a book. At present, I’m almost through with John Grisham’s, “The Painted House.” I really enjoy time to read each day.

After lunch, I go on a walk outside in good weather for about another half mile and currently take a look at six new homes being built in our neighborhood. If the weather is not suitable for walking, I walk another half mile on the treadmill.

I read lots of books and watch some favorite television shows in the evenings. Jane has her favorites, too, so we both watch those, but my list is longer than her’s — “Blue Bloods,” all of the NCIS series, the news, and then “Corner Gas” to put my mind in a happy frame after watching what is often pretty gruesome news reports. I wonder when and if all these mass shootings and gun related-problems in school will cease?

What has become one of my favorite songs is, “Let There Be Peace On Earth.” The next line of the song (after the title) is, “And let it begin with me.” I’ve been privileged to live in some very peaceful places during my sojourn here — including New Zealand for 2.5 years and also the various islands in the Pacific with Jane during our two years working with church schools in Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Fiji. Most citizens in these isles have no television, no telephones or cell phones, nor newspapers — just each other and lots of sunshine, fish, and island plant nourishment.

I’m thankful to live here in Cache Valley. We have some crime, poverty and challenges, but so very much to be grateful for — Deseret Industries, Somebody’s Attic, church and government welfare agencies, and neighbors who are caring, sharing, and helpful. Bless them all.

Here’s a little poem called “Ode to Thanksgiving” that you might share at your Thanksgiving dinner this year. I’m sorry, but I do not know the author:

“May your stuffing be tasty, / May your turkey plump, / May your potatoes and gravy, / Have nary a lump. / May your yams be delicious, / And your pies take the prize, / And may your Thanksgiving dinner, / Stay off your thighs!”

Happy Thanksgiving 2019 … So much to be grateful for!

Jay Monson is a former educator, and also served on the Utah State Board of Education, Cache County Council, and Logan City Council. He may be reached at monson.jay@gmail.com

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