Give Thanks

I have lots to be thankful for and consider myself a very lucky lady.  Like everyone, I’ve had my ups and downs, sickness and health, failures and successes.  I believe there is a reason for suffering that isn’t usually apparent to us.

I live on an island in the Pacific Northwest.  Right now, some of the trees are losing their leaves but there are plenty of evergreens that tower around us.  When the air is fresh and cool, I think a blind person need only take in a deep breath to “see” the color green.

Precious to me is the blessing of having been born in America – a country whose Founding Fathers recognized that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights and incorporated those rights into our Constitution – the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But, I would not have been so fortunate had my father not emigrated from Buchen, Germany.  My father was the youngest of several siblings in a family of farmers.  Because it was difficult for my grandparents to feed their entire family, it was decided it would be best for my father to go to America.  So, in 1924, according to the family history, my grandfather sold a pig for $50 and sent my father off to America.  He left Hamburg on the Deutschland, and arrived atEllis Island on September 7, 1924.  Had he not left Germany, he’d never have met my mother in Brooklyn, NY, and I would never have been born.

It would not be for many years after his death in 1972 that I would truly recognize the invaluable gift he gave me.  One of the few regrets I have is my failure to let him know just that.

I’ve traveled on five continents, and, while it’s always fascinating to visit other countries, there isn’t another place on earth I would rather live than in the United States.

When I hear people complain about how bad things are in America, I often think of my experiences in Dakar, Senegal.  I can still see the enclosed market which housed rows and rows of fish, with no refrigeration other than ice, which produced an almost unbearable stench as I carefully walked on the slimy floors, nearly tripping over the dozens of cats roaming through the aisles.  It was very different from the comfort and convenience of shopping at my local Safeway or Walmart.

No where in Dakar had I seen rows and rows of air fresheners or the myriad of deodorants, toothpastes, candies, bottles waters, or the variety of cereals we take for granted here at home.  I saw one store on a main shopping avenue with an enormous table which had probably a hundred shoes to be picked through to find a matching pair in the correct size.  It was a far cry from stores like Foot Locker which has dozens of athletic shoes neatly displayed in every size and color imaginable.

While riding on the bus, the streets were in such disrepair that the sidewalks were cracked wide open as if an earthquake had just hit the city.  Buildings were gutted and rebar was removed to be used in other buildings.  Some stores were actually old cargo containers sitting upright.

Another memorable sight was the dozens and dozens of goats in the streets preparing to be bought and slaughtered for the celebration of Tabaski.

Alongside those goats, I saw a young man literally crawling on a dirt sidewalk begging for money.  I didn’t want to stare at this pitiful human being, but I’m convinced that his limbs were so deformed that he moved insect-like along the sidewalk.  So, when I see “homeless” people in Seattle leaving St. Francis House with loaves of bread and then throwing the slices on the street to feed pigeons it makes my head spin.

It’s also why I have no patience for the Occupy people whose two-month protest wouldn’t have been tolerated in places like China and Iran.  Instead of doing something productive like working within our system, choosing candidates that reflect their thinking (although I doubt they have any cohesive thoughts about anything), and helping to get them elected, they choose, instead, to “occupy” cities, disrupt the lives of hardworking Americans, cause havoc, commit crimes, and will eventually cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.  To quote author Ken Hamblin, I say to the occupiers, “pick a better country.”

Some people, like the occupiers, would rather complain about the “system” instead of offering a viable alternative.  Some people would rather complain about what they don’t have instead of appreciating what they do have.

If I hadn’t traveled and experienced life in other countries, I might not appreciate how fortunate we are here inAmerica.  Sadly, too many people don’t get to see how the rest of the world lives.  I’d suggest they go and live in Dakarfor six months and come back and tell us how horrible life is here in the U.S.

So, while we celebrate Thanksgiving, I give thanks to God for all things, the “bestest husband in the entire universe,” and for my wonderful family and friends.  And I am forever grateful to my father for the sacrifices he made for me.  “Thanks, Daddy.”

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
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  • Gena Taylor

    Ms Salazar, another thing you have to be thankful for, which I understand the locals up there try to keep quiet for obvious reasons, is the beauty of the area you live in. My ex is from Tacoma, WA and we were married there in 1974, and I lived there for a short time in 1985, and it has got to be one of the most beautiful parts of the country, if not the most beautiful part of the country. The forests, the unbelievable lakes, just really God’s country. I’m from Texas, and a lot of the people down here like to refer to Texas as God’s country, but if they have ever lived in or visited Washington State, they would have to admit, if any part of the US is God’s country, it would have to be Washington State (particularly western Washington State). I visited my brother and his family when he was attending Washington State in Pullman, and eastern Washington is night and day different from Western Washington. We did jump across the border into Idaho and eat at Karl Marx’s Pizza joint in Moscow, Idaho, which was pretty funny.

  • wally2

    Very good article. I totally agree. Its a shame that even though many of our legislators have visited other countries, they come back to the US with little knowledge of the rest of the world. In fact, many of them see the US as the cause rather than the cure for world problems. Is this why they just throw money at problems with little to no thinking of the consequences of their actions? The evidence of this is readily seen in the educating of students.

  • Bruce A.

    As always another great article. All my grandparents were born in various countries of Eastern Europe arriving in the US in the early part of the 20th century. All came here to work & constanty told all their grandchildren that we live in the “best country”.

  • Ron F

    Wonderfule piece as usual Leona. We all have a lot to be thankful for. The only thing I disagree with are the comments about the occupiers. My guess is that most of them know that they have it far better than anyone else in the world. Some of the occupiers are veterans so they have seen how bad it is elsewhere. The Constitution which gives them the right of free assembly gives us the right of free speech and the right to criticize our government, which we also could not do in China and Iran. The fact that I know I could not protest our government’s action in other countries does not mean I will not protest here. I just appreciate the fact that I live in a country with a Constitution and Bill of Rights that protects their rights to protest as well as our rights to free speech.

    Your father and grandfather sound like remarkable men.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Nancye

    Thanks for your Thanksgiving article. I haven’t traveled to the places you spoke of, but yet I KNOW this country is the best country in the world, and I thank God I am privileged to live here.

    The ancestor on my father’s side that I’m descended from came to America from Germany, and took the required oath of allegiance in Philadelphia, Pa. October 7, 1751.

    My sincere thanks go to my Aunt Jamie who wrote three books about the family. I would not have known these things about my family had she not.

    Today, I’m thankful for my three children (which includes a daughter-in-law), five grandchildren, and two greatgrands, and the greatest country in the world, America.