It’s time to Break It Down!
Originally posted on November 24, 2010, and prior to today, subsequently on November 27, 2013, November 26, 2014, November 25, 2015, November 23, 2016, November 22, 2017, November 21, 2018, November 27, 2019, and November 25, 2020.
As in the past, since it is Thanksgiving Week, this post will deviate from the standard fare. I know that travel schedules (in some cases impeded by weather events, and COVID-19, again this year), meal planning, family time, shopping, football, basketball, parades, and if there is any time remaining, relaxation, will be the dominant theme this week. However, it is Wednesday, so there shall be a blog and it will be brief.
Those among us who have perfected humility, and ascended to a genuine Nirvana state, have no doubt also elevated giving thanks to an art form. The rest of us must fully invest our appreciation in the notion, “That’s why we have Thanksgiving!”
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, which kicks off what we commonly refer to as the Holiday Season. Almost instinctively, Thanksgiving and Christmas come to mind. Yet, there is so much more than that to the Season.
Over the next 54 days, many of us will enjoy succulent feasting at Thanksgiving, exchange gifts and contribute to the needy during Hanukkah. We will buy, give, exchange, and/or receive, and (in far too many instances) return gifts at Christmas, eat, drink, and celebrate the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa, and party and toast the dawn of 2022 on New Year’s Day. We will honor the life and works of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on MLK Day. In addition, even in these tough (though improving) economic times, still further fraught with the consequences of coronavirus, further complicated by soaring inflation, this weekend, millions of Americans will pay (literally) homage to our most celebrated of shoppers’ holiday weekends, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, by rising early, and proceeding to scour the aisles for those perfect gifts…and if not perfect, at least cheap, relatively speaking. There are even some precociously enterprising businesses that will start the shopping clock Thursday. Sigh!
In past years, I have sometimes recounted my reasons for being thankful. This year I find that I have more reasons than ever to sit contemplatively in humble repose, and affirm boldly, that I know, without caveat, not only the goodness, no the greatness of God, but also of his inestimable and inexhaustible beneficence. I thank Him for deliverance, and for imbuing me with the sense and sensibility to discern the distinction between kairos and chronos, Greek concepts for God’s time, and man’s time, respectively. In this the Year of our Lord and Savior, 2021, a.k.a. Year 5 A.D. (After Donald), I have again been reminded, God really does have a sense of humor. In accordance, I thank him dearly and daily for Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and SNL. More important, I am thankful this moment also reflects Year 1 A.J. (After Joe). Amen!
Eons ago, when I was a college student, I pledged a fraternity. It is familiarly known as the Oldest, Boldest, and Coldest, but I digress. The point of this reference is that during the erstwhile pledge process, as prospective initiates, we were required to learn several classic poems. There were many, each selected to convey a specific life lesson. Some of them have stayed with me, but none more than Invictus, written by English poet, William Ernest Henley (1849-1903).
The Latin translation for Invictus is Undefeated. You may recall it, but just in case, see it below:
Invictus (Latin for Undefeated) By William Ernest Henley:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
So, as you go about your way tomorrow, and all the tomorrows that follow, recognize that Thanksgiving, at its core, is not simply a day on the calendar. It is a spirit that dwells within each of us, an impulse that prompts us to thank God (for our being undefeated), and for the graciousness to share His blessings with our fellow men and women. Indeed, every day is “A Time For Giving Thanks, Redux ’21!”
I’m done; holla back!
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