Charles E. Richardson

A special opportunity to give thanks

This time of year it’s appropriate to give thanks, but it shouldn’t be a once a year type thing. You’re probably a lot like me, we give thanks all through the year, but when the air starts to cool and the leaves disappear, we know what’s coming and our thankfulness becomes more focused, more pronounced as another year slips into the fog of time.

My thanks came into focus last week, a week with earlier than usual deadlines when everybody is putting the pedal to the metal around the newspaper. All of us want Thanksgiving Day to be more than just a speed bump, but we’ve all been through this drill, and it doesn’t get any easier as staffs shrink — and it seems the calendar shrinks, too. Weren’t we here just yesterday?

Getting home last week and seeing my grandson Paul, who I hadn’t seen in a couple of weeks because of his work schedule, gave me a lift. He’s growing up, and I’m seeing that he might have been listening while I was talking until I was blue in the face. Do you realize how hard it is for a black man to turn blue? Yes, it was stressful, but it has been worth every gray hair, and I give thanks.

Earlier in the day — morning in fact — as I did my sweep of Facebook (I’m a Facebook voyeur, I watch, but rarely post), it reminds you of long-ago posts and up popped one from five year’s past. It was a picture of a Budget Rent-A-Truck I used to move my in-laws, James and Kay, from Falls Church, Virginia, to Macon. While they stayed in the Washington, D.C. area to tie up loose ends, me, my wife Pamela, Favorite Sister In-Law (FSIL) Janice or Diane (don’t ask, long story) hit the road with furniture and an old car in tow. And I give thanks. Five years later, they’re happy, in their own home and very pleased to be off a hill where their house sat — and away from snow.

But my thanks go beyond my ability to give thanks. There are people who enrich my life every time I’m in their presence. They keep me centered. They remind me that I’m mortal and no matter what I go through, no matter what I learn, I can’t possible know it all. I cherish members of my Palaver Club. Every meeting I walk away with more nuggets of gold than I can carry and for that, I give thanks.

Right before Thanksgiving, my Downtown Rotary Club gave away 115 Thanksgiving dinners. It’s a club tradition started several years ago and while some members write a check and go on their way, a majority take the time on a Saturday morning to personally deliver the dinners. That’s right, door-to-door service. The smiles of appreciation we see — well, priceless. To be in a position to bless others is something to be thankful about.

Before some might get all of this twisted, of course I give thanks for my wife and all of my children, grandchildren and — yes — great grands, of which there are three. But as I look around and think about the gifts that I’ve been given, and the amount of time I’ve been given to enjoy them, I’m more than amazed.

There are so many friends who didn’t receive this blessing. Memories of them almost haunt me. I still see their faces and cherish our times together. I told my wife that it’s hard to past a church where I hadn’t attended a service — or a funeral.

And finally, thank you, dear readers, for allowing me to share my thoughts on these pages for decades. I know I tick you off sometimes. I hope, sometimes, I make you think. I don’t expect or desire agreement. We have difficult days ahead, but we can meet all of our challenges if we remain humble, treat each other as individuals and not as members of this or that group, and most of all, allow our hearts to guide our decisions as we attempt to walk in shoes that are not our own.