By Susan Stamper Brown
If Americans figured out how to get along after the Civil War, there is no excuse for people canceling their Thanksgiving Day plans because of the 2016 presidential election.
If that's the case, obviously, their problems extend far beyond politics.
After the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln had to deal with a bloodied nation divided by war and understood the only way to restore unity was repentance, followed by thanksgiving.
So, he set aside the last Thursday of November as a day of "thanksgiving and praise...with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience" to "fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."
Big words there, but in the end, the uniquely-American Thanksgiving Day was birthed, wherein families gather together to give thanks despite who wins an election. And they love each other enough to overlook the loudmouth relative standing over the turkey wielding a carving knife who won't stop talking about why her candidate lost or won.
Don't be that relative.
Researchers tell us that a consistent attitude of gratitude makes people happier and healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually. It seems we need an extra big serving of thankfulness to go with that pumpkin pie this year.
So, let me begin. My heart overflows. I'm thankful, in no particular order, for a large assortment of things including strong coffee. And homemade calzones. And for the northern lights during dark winter days and for salmon fishing on endless summer nights. I'm thankful that the big grizzly who likes our yard finally hibernated and that my rescue dogs rescued me when they scared away the mother moose who charged me.
I'm thankful the squirrel I fed last winter came back this year and the orphaned black bear figured out how to make it on his own. I'm thankful that one glance out my kitchen window reminds me that no matter how crazy this world gets, the One who created it remains in control. And I remain thankful that sometimes at church, I can almost hear what sounds like my dad's voice bombastically belting out a hymn's chorus during worship when I close my eyes.
I'm thankful our freezer is stocked with caribou and salmon and garden goods and we still have running water and don't have to use the outhouse on our land.
I am thankful that my team, the Dallas Cowboys, is first in the NFC East this year and said "no" to all the unpatriotic knee-taking.
I am thankful for what WikiLeaks exposed.
I am thankful that there is a return to sanity in America and that the forgotten Americans in flyover country spoke en masse with their votes. I am thankful for our forefathers who penned the U.S. Constitution so prudently, America didn't buckle under the weight of this administration and for patriots who are willing to sacrifice their all in its defense.
I am thankful for friends and family near and far who fill a place in our hearts when they can't fill a place around our table.
I am humbled beyond measure for you, dear readers, for whether we agree or not, we can at least celebrate together our freedom of speech. And as always, it goes without saying how thankful I am that the too-many-times empty seat at our Thanksgiving table will be warmed again this year by the one who warms my heart.
To you and yours, Happy Thanksgiving.
©2016 Susan Stamper Brown Susan lives in Alaska and writes about culture, politics and current events. She was selected as one of America's 50 Best Conservative writers for 2015. Her columns are syndicated by CagleCartoons.com. Contact her by Facebook or at [email protected]