Back in the late 1990s I read one of Joan Beck's annual Thanksgiving columns and was stunned by its beauty and simplicity. I wanted every one of my friends to read it, so I wrote her at the Chicago Tribune asking her permission to put it in my Christmas letter to family and friends. The season wasn't the issue; its meaning for anytime of the year was what I was looking for. She wrote me back a lovely letter giving me that permission. She died a year later.
I think she would be pleased to extend that permission to me now, as I pass on this slightly dated but still as stunning as ever column that was a bountiful gift from her to all of us.
Thursday, November 27, 1997
For these things, we are thankful ...
By Joan Beck
As we gather together to count the Lord's blessings, 376 years after the first Thanksgiving Day, we are grateful, Dear God, for Mir if it's safe and the Mars Pathfinder when it worked and the bull market while it lasts, for browsers and brownies and brothers, for cells and cell phones and cedars, for planes and plumbing and e pluribus unum, for tea and T-shirts and a T-rex named Sue.
God of grace and God of glory, we thank you this November day for stock prices that go up and a budget deficit that went down, for the fragile peace in Bosnia and for Wei Jingsheng who is now free, for dividends and diversity and one nation indivisible, for e-mail and eagles and Edison and Easter, for salsa and cilantro and cinnamon.
For new drugs that fight cancer and new techniques for heart surgery and new progress on a vaccine for AIDS, we are grateful, O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, and for newspapers and newborns and new jobs and new years, for cats and catalogs and catfish and CT scans, for caterpillars and calculus and cathedrals and catsup.
O Lord, our God, when we in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made, we offer praise today for modems and mothers and grandmothers and Mother Teresa, for the infinitesimal mysteries of the genome and infinite stretch of the heavens, for bonding and books and brooks and bootstraps, for carryouts and carryons and carryovers.
For teachers and preachers and all creatures great and small, we thank you, Lord God who made them all, and for vacations and cash stations and gustations and dalmatians, for faxes and fairies and fathers and farms, for fireworks and fireflies and frequent-flyer miles, for health and hearths and hearing and healing.
O God who is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, we are grateful this day for the World Wide Web and weddings and weekends for galaxies and galas and gardens, for hymns and hugs and heffalumps, for cars and caramel and carnivals, for carols and carillons and cancan, for www.travelocity.com and www.lonelyplanet.com and hhtp://whyfiles.news.wisc.edu/.
Septuplets when they are all healthy and normal we count as blessings this Thanksgiving Day, our Father who art in heaven. We thank you, too, for nests and nest eggs and neonatal intensive care, for mentors and Mendel and Mendelssohn and positive mental attitude, for Disney and Dilbert and dill, for caregivers and carpools and "I now pronounce you husband and wife."
Lord of all to thee we raise our grateful praise for 911 and 1-800, for 98.6 and 20/20, for 401Ks and 403Bs, for I Corinthians 13 and John 3:16, for Beethoven's 6th and Brahms' 4th, for 12-step programs and three-ring circuses and second-day mail, for Title IX and a half point over prime and 8 gigabytes of hard drive space.
Daughters and daisies and daydreams we count among thy blessings this day, O God, who moves in mysterious ways thy wonders to perform. So, too, sons and soul and soup and soap, comforters and comfort food and common stock, flextime and flu shots and flags and flamingos and "Yea, through I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."
Our Father who art in heaven, we thank you for general assemblies and general practitioners and generics and Genesis, for Gen X and geniuses and the Geneva convention, for solitude and solitaire and serendipity, for sequels and soccer and Sesame Street, for "It's benign" and "You're covered" and "I lift my lamp beside the golden door" and "When in the course of human events" and "They all lived happily ever after."
For sisters and salads and salmon and saints, for Seuss and Sousa and Santa and Strauss, we give thee thanks this special day, O God from whom all blessings flow. And for docks and doctors and doctoral dissertations, for Meals on Wheels and blood banks and food banks and shelters, for psalms and samaritans and salt and salvation and that "surely the presence of the Lord is in this place."
Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices for angels and auctions and anesthesia, for potatoes and poems and Poe and Paine, and for Lincoln and liberty and libraries, for licorice and luminaria and light at the end of the tunnel, for overtures and overalls and outlets and ova and "I have a dream" and "We shall overcome."
The mysteries of egg and electricity and eternity, of prenatal development and prairies and prayer fill our minds with wonder this Thanksgiving Day, immortal, invisible, God only wise. Our thanks abound, as well, for preludes and pralines and paramedics and pacifiers, for physicists and pharmacists and pianists and pragmatists, for gadgets and goslings and gorillas and godparents and "until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand."
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, we thank you once again for dawn after dark, for rest after work, for healing after hurt and for life after life, for a bridge over trouble and a shelter from the storm, for love that will not let us go and an eternal home and always, that "neither death nor life nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God."