Veronica Hendrix

*Thanksgiving  2011.

It’s here despite the fact that two local radio stations in Los Angeles have gone “Yule” by flipping their formats to all holiday music from now until Christmas. It’s a little disconcerting.  I just want to have my turkey, cornbread dressing and sweet potato pie first before I am thrown into the throws of the Christmas season. I just have a problem with chestnut roasting on an open fire before my turkey comes out of the oven.

And I want to bask in just a moment of thankfulness before I get lured into conspicuous consumption and retail atrophy.  Television commercials, radio announcements and banner ads on my favorite websites keep pressing me to spend, spend, spend.

The world is in a lot of chaos right now as the log crackles on the open fire. From the genocide in the Sudan, uprising in Egypt, riots in London, revolution in Libya, debt crisis in Italy and the Occupy Wall Street  Movement in America it has been a tumultuous time on the planet.

It’s dizzying to think about it all. It’s disheartening to see the toll these world events have had on humanity from people losing their homes, livelihoods and life savings to those who have their lives at the hands of tyrannical regimes and in their struggle for freedom.

With all that has transpired over the course of this year I need Thanksgiving and all it has come to symbolize. Thanksgiving is a bright light at the end of a dark year; it’s my moment in the sun. So I will pause – no I will halt and give thanks in the midst of the world’s chaos.

The ancient scriptures tell us that we should give thanks in all things. It’s simply not that easy to do when there is more month than there is money and when  the joy that is suppose to come in the morning seems trapped in the night.

Sometimes you have to drill down to the basics to elicit that thankfulness especially in times such as these. Food, shelter, health, strength and a sound mind are the basics that immediately come to mind. These are basics our ancestors and our parents routinely expressed their deep and unfeigned thankfulness for.

I remember my mother often raising her hands and thanking God for waking up with peace, strength and a sound mind each morning. As a child I was often perplexed by this declaration of thankfulness. It seemed almost perfunctory because she did it every day like a ritual. “Didn’t everyone wake up with peace, strength and a sound mind?” was my thought.

Well that was clearly a question from the innocence and inexperience of child. When you find yourself without so many of the basics needed to survive or tittering on the brink of losing them, peace, strength and a sound mind could easily be neighbors that have packed up and left town because misfortune, uncertainly, worry and stress have moved in.

So many of us have been there. I have certainly had my moments to be sure.

But I am profoundly thankful for the example my mom set for me as a child. Because I know there were dark moments in her life that should have hijacked her peace, crushed her strength and ruptured her sound mind. Perhaps it did. But I know she has always lived by her faith and held its line even when the earth around her was being eroded.

By watching her I’ve learned that there is something to “this living by faith” posture she upheld when there was no visible evidence that supported that posture. But here again, it’s trusting in the “unseen” which is a tenet of faith and giving thanks in all things and at all times. Not easy at all but essential if you are resolved to waking up with peace, strength and a sound mind.

For now, I’ve decided not to listen to those two radio stations jingling the bells of Christmas round the clock because I want to focus on thankfulness. As I gather with my family and friends for Thanksgiving, I will let them know how thankful I am for them being in my life and supporting me through various junctures and in wading through the junk in my life. I will thank them for their honesty even when it’s been brutal. I will thank them for their listening ear when I’ve clamored incessantly because I needed talk therapy. I will thank them for the tangibles and intangibles they have given unselfishly and even reluctantly.

Above all, I will thank the creator for those things that are unseen, those things I can’t touch or see but know are there such as love, faith, joy and hope  – all attributes that are  imbued yet tested everyday by what I can see, what I can touch and what is clear and present in the world around me.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. She is the owner of Bromont Avenue Foods. She is the author of “Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning Heart Healthy Recipes.” Visit http://bromontavefoods.com for more information.  For comments, interviews, speaking engagements or moderator requests please send an email to [email protected]