Before I Take Off: Super Thankful

I just wanted to take a moment this Thanksgiving to say thank you to all of you who subscribe to or visit the blog, and explain briefly why things have been a bit more sporadic of late. On Monday – God willing and the creek don’t rise – I’m beginning a new job, and the transition from the old position to the new position over the past couple of weeks has involved a significant amount of my free time.  Regular readers know that as a general rule I don’t talk about work on social media, so don’t expect that to change.  Suffice to say that I’ll still be fighting for truth, justice, and the American way, and one of the things I’m most thankful for this Thanksgiving is what promises to be a truly fantastic opportunity to do so.

The new job will allow me less free time for media than I had available to me previously. and as a result I can’t predict at this moment how regularly I will be able to blog or engage online.  Although I won’t be going anywhere, I must beg your indulgence for a little while, as I sort out my schedule and duties.  This may mean a bit of a pause in things like the weekly “Phone Booth Friday” posts, or letting my readers know about interesting upcoming events in the Catholic or arts and culture spheres.

So until things are a bit more settled, apart from an upcoming book review I’m scheduled to share, the bogging hiatus will continue for a bit – for how long, I don’t know. A few days? A few weeks? We shall see. I promise to be back to writing as soon as I can.

In the meantime, please accept my very best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to you in your universe, from me in mine.





Preparing to be Thankful

Yesterday afternoon I was running errands in the village, and saw the shop display pictured below, with the single word “thankful” in large letters stretched across the width of the window.

It had been a long day, the most stressful part of which had been giving notice to my current job that I will be leaving for a new job in two weeks. [N.B.: I don’t discuss my professional life on social media, but suffice to say I’m staying in the law.] This has been a long time coming, but my departure has some elements of mixed feelings surrounding it.  I’m thankful for the opportunities I have had, but I’m also thankful for the opportunities I’m about to have, in order to grow professionally and personally.

Although many things still need to be worked out, since my life is far from perfect, it struck me when looking at that store display that even in the trying times, the difficult moments when you think everything is absolutely terrible, there is still much to be thankful for.  Sure, thankfulness often comes from something terrific, like landing a new job, beating an illness, or achieving a personal goal.  Those things are pretty obvious causes for thankfulness and indeed celebration.  Yet so often in our focus on the big things, we overlook being thankful for absolutely all of the things, great and small, that make up life around us.

Of course, there’s a perfectly sound reason why we don’t stop to analyze every single good thing that we have to be thankful for as we go through our day.  If we had to reflect all the time on those things we take for granted, yet for which we should be thankful – clean drinking water, a good newspaper, an affectionate pet – we would achieve nothing.  Appreciating and expressing gratitude for the smell of wet autumn leaves alone, for example, would take ages.

With the upcoming American celebration of Thanksgiving, marked by the store window display I spotted, the notion of being thankful begs the question, “Thankful to whom?” A cold and meaningless universe, where the existence of life is but a fluke? A senseless commingling of chemical bonds with no purpose? A bunch of dead, fundamentalist Protestants who got kicked out of England centuries ago, like everyone else who didn’t conform?  The Pillsbury Dough Boy?

Well, okay, we can be thankful to him for crescent rolls at Thanksgiving, but you see my point. In perceiving that there are lovely, good things around you, part of the gift of life you have been given, you quickly come to realize that you are overwhelmed on a daily basis with blessings for which to be thankful. In doing so, you come to realize the complete dependence of the created upon the Creator, for every moment life continues, even in its most difficult passages.

Thanksgiving is not Christmas, and there is no Advent season to prepare for it.  Nevertheless, perhaps a good idea for this particular holiday would be to come to Thanksgiving Day with a prayer of actual thanksgiving already written on your heart, for the many blessings you do have.  Do so because you have already taken the time, even if only once a day, to count just some of them. And let us then, indeed, be truly thankful.


Thanks to You, Gentle Reader

As The Courtier is in the country with his family for Thanksgiving, where fortunately internet connections are still somewhat slow and spotty, please consider this his vote of thanks and appreciation for your readership.  Today Americans pause to reflect on the great bounty that God has given in this magnificently beautiful land, a place where despite the best efforts of ignorance and darkness, common-sense principles still matter, and continue to hold influence over how the nation acts.  Many will say, nevertheless, that despite whatever America says about itself, that ours is a flawed nation – and so it is, because like any venture run by human beings, we do not always get it right.  And yet we do, so often, get it right, that it must be said, however bombastically it may come off, that ours is the greatest nation in the history of the world.

We are not great because we have built impressive monuments and feats of engineering, or created unbelievable masses of wealth and works of art, or invented all sorts of technologies that have changed the world and made it better.  We have done all of these things, built on the hard work of individuals and not on the forced labor of monarchs or cults of personality. And this latter part is the key to it all, for this is a country where, among other things, one can choose where and how one wants to live; the way to earn one’s bread; and when and where and how to speak one’s mind without fear of reprisal.  It is a place where one cannot be forced to bow and scrape to any individual, class, or committee, where decency, fairness, a fair shake, and the Golden Rule still matter.

We are great because this is the one country in the history of mankind which has helped the greatest amount of people around the globe to improve their fates and to achieve a say over their own lives, often in the face of totalitarianism and absolutism, thanks to our continued belief and avocation of certain virtues.  And no matter how great or powerful this country may be, the first among these virtues is one practiced by the first colonists of this land on this day, and enshrined in proclamations and laws enacted and followed by our democratically elected representatives for centuries, from the first colonial governors, to George Washington, to today, with a particular nod to the influence of Abraham Lincoln on cementing the permanency of this day’s celebration.  We all pause and acknowledge, with grateful, national humility, what we have been given, undeservedly, through Divine Providence, in having the chance to live and make our way freely in a land as beautiful as this one.

So as The Courtier and his family gather together to say thank you, one thing which he is particularly thankful for are the readers of these pages, who often provide so much to think about, learning more about the world in which we all live and trying to make a small corner of it a little bit better, with the limited abilities one has by which to do so.  May you receive many blessings and good things, gentle reader, this day and always, for you and for those whom you love.  And may God continue to bless these United States of America.

“The First Thanksgiving” by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1914)
Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts