While you are sitting down at the table this Thanksgiving, I would like you to remember this column, just for a second. You may wish to thank a higher entity, but perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to spend a moment closer to the ground, as well. All of that food did not just magically appear on the table. For that matter, the table didn’t just magically appear in the dining room either, but let’s confine ourselves to the food for now.
We can use the turkey as an example. A long time ago a turkey farmer in Iowa, or someplace like Iowa, incubated the egg that delivered your turkey’s great-great-great-grandfather into the world for someone’s holiday dining pleasure. Years ago, I drove occasionally past a turkey farm along highway 20 in the rolling hills of central Iowa, somewhere west of Fort Dodge. There had to be thousands of turkeys there, at that time running free in the large crowded yards. We can start by thanking that farmer.
That farmer fed his flock every day, probably using at least some feed from a local elevator, mixed with the vitamins and minerals needed to grow a plump tom turkey. Every morning, a sunburned man in overalls arrived at that elevator. By the end of the day, he probably had one strap undone, after mixing and bagging feed for hours, and pumping grains around among the various silos and elevators. When he got into his truck at night, his arms and hair were covered in that fine dust that hovers around farm country. We need to thank him for day after day of honest work.
While you’re driving home from Thanksgiving dinner, you might see some semis on the road or in a truck stop. The drivers of those trucks didn’t get home for Thanksgiving. They will be having that at a Mid-America Truck Plaza or maybe Denny’s. One of those guys might have been the one that delivered your turkey, plucked, cleaned, and frozen, to your supermarket so that you could go in and purchase it without having to expend any extraneous effort.
The same is true for everything on your table at Thanksgiving, as well as for the chair that you are sitting on. There were a plethora of real human beings that were involved in your Thanksgiving dinner this year, and every year. You will never meet them. You will never have a chance to shake their hands. But you could take the time, on a day tailor-made for such things, to offer up a word of thanks to these people, without whom you would be having, at best, a peanut butter sandwich. Be advised that if that were true, you would have people to thank for that, too.
If you would like, you could extend this idea to other areas of your life. Think about the people that work for your physician, or your attorney. How about the folks down at Wal-Mart, the ones that stock the shelves and check you out? Maybe you would like to remember that doctor in the emergency room that was there to keep you alive when you needed it. I know that all of these people get paid. But they could have found something easier to do. You need them. Of course, maybe they should be at home thanking you on Thanksgiving, too.
While you’re at it, think of the friends and family members that you should be thanking. Some of them may be having dinner with you on this special day. Give some thought to thanking them for all the things that they do to make your life more livable. The poet John Donne was correct when he said that no man is an island. As the world gets more complicated, we are connected to (and owe thanks to) more and more human beings. If you take a moment to give thanks to them on this day of thanks, maybe the Law of Reciprocal Karma will insure that they will take the time to thank you for what you do.