Being grateful

Column by David Reynolds

Tomorrow is truly an American holiday. It is one of the few which remains faithful to its origins. Thanksgiving 2009 will be like Thanksgiving 2008 and all the other Thanksgiving’s before it.

Thanksgiving is always a peaceful day. So, peace is on my “Thank you” list. Did you know that “9/11” happened 2,998 days ago? Did you live each one of those days as if it were your last? Some did. They have no regrets. I have a few, but too few to mention.

What else am I grateful for? The list is long. Very long. But at the top is being above ground. Too many friends have left over my fifteen years here. Death is always trying to remind all of us that it is good to be alive.

But being above ground is not always easy. I have been working at it for 27,184 days and still counting. I enjoy the work. If you invest in life as a glorious struggle it will pay dividends. Think of the start of each day as “third and long.” The odds may be against you, but you are still in the game. So I am grateful for my many weaknesses. If I did not have a lousy tennis backhand, I would never appreciate my forehand.

However, when you talk about our land of paradise please be careful. Do not brag so much that you offend your out-of-town guests. Remember when you lived elsewhere? It is hard to compare places when the perspective of any place changes the moment you leave it.

Nonetheless, we believe that this corner of the earth is special. We believe that we have much to be thankful for from the the back roads where we learn to wave to the dreaded I-81 where we learn to pray.

Folks here still ask me, “How are you,” not, “What do you do?” I could have robbed banks in my previous life and no one would care. Amazing grace. And folks here still listen. How sweet it is. That’s because it is harder to find a place to park on Sunday mornings than the rest of the week. How many towns can make that claim? Maybe God is not dead as others claim. How can he be when I just spoke with him this morning.

Our towns and its people are diverse, centuries before diversity was so politically correct. Lexington and Buena Vista are originals. Thank you for both.

Looking north to Washington, Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for not having all the government we pay for. In the future we may be even more grateful. The federal government plans to provide health insurance four years after the payments start. My mortgage lender did not do that. I moved into my new home with my first payment. I am thankful for my mortgage lender.

And let us rejoice that our local police departments have officers who are bored. Think of the alternative. I can not. I would not live here.

I am grateful that our Virginia elections are over. We get to keep our state senator without sharing this fine man with the rest of Virginia. For this we need to thank the political pendulum. It is swinging back to the right.

I am also grateful that our last national election put to rest those who said we would never elect a black president. They sold America short.

I am grateful for the conservative financial plan approved by W&L’s Board of Trustees. The university’s endowment was not hit by last year’s financial meltdown nearly as much as other schools. Washington & Lee did not gamble away your donations.

And gratitude must be expressed for having Lexington’s central block finally and slowly coming back to life, one building, one business at a time. Isn’t that the only way true progress takes place?

Before you sit down for dinner, I especially wish to thank those of you who see the face of God in everything you love. And which will never die. In three weeks I will see a new grandchild, our fifth. And in four weeks the world will celebrate the birth of another child. Life goes on. Enjoy. And be grateful.

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