Charles E. Richardson

RICHARDSON: Giving thanks

I guess this week is the official kickoff to the 2014 holiday season -- even though we’ve been seeing Christmas ads for weeks. I’m amazed at how quickly Christmas 2013 turned to 2014, both with hardly a mention of Thanksgiving. Why? We’ve lost the Thanksgiving spirit. When we pray before we sit down to this huge meal, do we really mean it? I think we get so wrapped up in our menus and seating arrangements and worries about ingredients that we lose sight of why we go through all the fuss. For those responsible for the perfect turkey -- like me -- I know my mind is elsewhere. Just being honest.

I have to wait until my quiet time when it’s just me and him to give my thanks, away from the children and the TV blaring out first downs. I start with January and work my way through the months. I try my best to be conversational with the almighty -- and I try to avoid cliches such as “I thank you for life, health and strength.” How many times have we said that? Certainly it’s true, but I don’t want to have a talk that depends on tired expressions.

Of course, I thank him for my family. He added a great-granddaughter to the clan this year. He didn’t do it the way I wanted him to -- I’m much too young to be a great-grandfather -- but it’s not about me.

My wife is a special person who has seen all of my demons. Her perseverance has allowed me to slay a few of them, but I’ve still got plenty. My sons continue to vex my spirit at times, but we get better as all of us age.

I thank him for the trials and tribulations. I always come out better for them -- and he always sends an encouraging word at just the right moment.

I thank him for good friends -- some I rarely lay eyes on. When we reconnect, it’s like we’ve never been apart. I thank him for what he is doing in their lives. And I thank him for time.

No day is promised, so I appreciate each opportunity to open my eyes from a deep sleep. I even thank him for my daily systems check. Remember when we were young and spry and could literally bolt out of bed even if we had stayed out late the night before? Now, if you’re like me, I have to perform a systems check. Are my legs and arms still asleep? Will my eyes open? How do I feel when I stand up first thing in the morning -- a little wobbly?

I used to proudly say that the strongest medicine I took was aspirin. Now I take eight pills a day -- and depending on the season, others for allergies and occasional swelling. That’s OK, too. Every day when I peruse the paper’s obituaries, I give thanks that I didn’t see my picture. I check out the ages of those who have lived their lives without ever making the paper. Too many are a lot younger than I.

I also look at those who have had a long life. One was eulogized just this past Wednesday. Elizabeth Hart, mother of former Bibb County Commission chairman and future Water Authority Chairman Sam Hart, was 102 when she passed. Oh, what she was able to see. What a blessing. She lived longer than 13 of the 18 presidents who served in her lifetime. Wow. And she lived to see what was impossible to even consider throughout most of her adult life -- an African-American president.

My conversations with the Great I Am covers all of the bases. We even talk politics. He always reminds me that he is in control -- not presidents, not prime ministers, kings, queens or sultans who have a high opinion of themselves.

I ask a lot of “why” questions: Why is there so much death in the world? What purpose does it serve for young children to be riddled with disease? Why do you allow groups like Islamic State, Boko Haram, al-Qaida and Hamas kill innocent people? The answer is always the same: “You wouldn’t understand. Don’t you remember what I said in Isaiah 55:8? ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.’”

That’s probably a good thing. I would have wiped out the human race and started over a long time ago. I know, he tried that and only his love has spared us.

He lets me down easy. He knows, and so do I, that my little 286 Mhz-sized brain doesn’t have the capacity to understand him, so I only have one option -- to trust him. Happy Thanksgiving.

Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraph’s editorial page editor. He can be reached at 478-744-4342 or via email at Tweet @crichard1020.