Jim Beam column:Some earlier Thanksgivings

Published 7:41 am Thursday, November 25, 2021

A former colleague of mine years ago said I should always write “something nice” on holidays. I looked back at columns I have done since the early 1960s to see how well I did on Thanksgiving.

A Nov. 23, 1975, column came close, and I thought it fit today’s climate rather well. I said the world at that time was in such a mess that the problems of people often got lost in the shuffle.

Today’s world isn’t much better, and the question I asked back then was, “How can those headaches close to home get any sympathy when New York is going broke, the Arabs are still squabbling with the Jews, the CIA and FBI misdeeds are grabbing all the headlines and the LaGrange, Sulphur and Lake Charles boosters are all complaining about one or the other getting all the football coverage?”

What could be worse than all of that? I asked. Well, our news department in 1975 had already used up all of its supply of paper clips and we had to start “dog-earring” the upper left-hand corners of our stories.

Things weren’t much better at home in those days. I said you would think spending $80 in those days to stop a bathtub faucet leak deserved some sympathy but my plight barely got a nod from anyone. Bad news, somehow, was rolling off people’s backs.

Hard times didn’t even bother my wife. When the checkbook balance hit zero, she just kept on writing checks. The last time I looked we were at minus-$82.50 and counting.

Some good news did ease the pain, My daughter got a job for the Christmas holidays. I said I would probably have to do the washing and cooking to take up the slack. My wife had her hands full with a full-time job and she had a sideline job after hours.

My neighbor who helped me with many do-it-yourself jobs had plans to move to the country. We did have two cars, but one or the other always needed tires, a tune-up, or a brake job.

We had our Thanksgiving meal on Sunday that year and a sudden-death pro football game put me a little late. By the time I got to the table, the baked beans and rolls were all gone.

I pleaded for some sympathy that year but got little. Other people somehow didn’t understand how distressing it was to worry about where your next paper clip was coming from.

I did a better job on Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, 2003, when I talked about giving thanks for our many blessings.

Family came to mind first, I said, and that is natural. We build our lives around our families, and happy relationships help us build strong character.

Children who grow up in a happy home environment turn out to be creative and productive adults. And they pass along the lessons they learn to their offspring, so the blessings continue for generations.

When our children marry, the family grows new branches. And so do the blessings as in-laws become part of our larger family.

We know God has truly blessed our lives when grandchildren come along. We see the future as they develop, and they bring joy to our everyday existence.

Next to family, I said we could give thanks for the people we have known in our lives. Some of them are lifelong friends and others have grown close in recent times.

As a newspaperman, I said I have met some mighty interesting people over the years, and many of them I would never forget. I have had opportunities to write about some of those people, and, again, their feedback has been positive. Most of us are better people because of the way others have touched our lives.

These are some of the other things I asked our 2003 readers to remember:

  • No Thanksgiving would be complete without a special thanks to God for giving us the opportunity to live in the greatest nation in the world.
  • Amidst all of our bounty and good fortune we shouldn’t forget there are millions of people here and abroad who don’t enjoy the same blessings. For them, life is a constant struggle to survive.
  • Share with them in any way you can when you have that opportunity. They, too, deserve God’s blessings.

Once again, as I said in 2003, I would like to say thanks to those of you who have enriched my life by being faithful readers for so many years. I wish you the best Thanksgiving possible.