“Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck… Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that’s what they mean by ‘Thanksgiving,’ Charlie Brown.” From A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving by Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000)

In a couple of days we’ll gather with family and friends to participate in the one holiday that is truly American. We’ll gather at a time when our nation is divided, and after an election campaign that only deepened those divisions. There is legitimate concern, fear, that the rhetoric of this vitriolic campaign turns to action and the freedoms upon which this nation was founded are jeopardized.

So, I wanted to learn what it is we are thankful for this holiday season. I posed that question over Facebook and via email to a number of individuals. I did not seek out politicians, and, in fact, asked that responses avoid politics. I also asked for responses to exclude gratitude for our family and friends, and for health, all things we can agree are high on everyone’s thankful list. I wanted, as I wrote, to “dig deeper…to be more reflective.” And I said that I would share the answers on the radio shows I host and on these websites. My great experiment. I didn’t know if I’d receive a single response. I received several, and many that touched my heart and reminded me of what it is that we should truly cherish.

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“Despite the fact that you asked us to not comment about family or health, I must say that I am happy about what I once had with family (my grandparents) and that happiness has continued long after their passing. I honor each and every memory of them, and each and every lesson that they taught me which follows me through my life…

“I am thankful for the opportunity to ‘participate,’ to speak my mind, to debate, to disagree, to have the potential to have an impact. This is freedom which is not realized by so many people I know around the world. So, I guess you could say that I am Thankful for being an American, which affords me with a freedom and a liberty that is so often taken for granted by so many people in this country, and which is revered by so many people in other ‘less free’ countries around the world.

“But, however much I like my freedom, and progress and the technology which makes us so advanced, I fear that we have grown too far and too fast, and that we have missed so much of where we came from. I am thankful when a young child wants to ask me a question, or read a book or play a game … but am bemused when the questions do not need to be asked because they can be Googled, the books don’t need to be read because they have been outdated with tablets, and the games … well… there is no such thing as hide and seek anymore because it is not ‘virtual reality.’

“I am thankful for the common handshake, the common agreement, the common expectation of honesty and integrity…I am thankful for a sense of work ethic… I am thankful for having grown up in a time when people were held accountable for their actions…I am thankful that there are still people around who give a damn about positive change and corrective solutions…” – Mark Deion CEO/President, Deion Associates & Strategies.

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“Our ever increasing ability to communicate brings the world’s worst events to us faster and faster to a point where we are forced to think that we live in a horrible time amid expectation that the future will be worse than today.  I don’t recall where I recently came upon a piece that asked readers to identify the worst period of human existence.  It may have been Facebook and it made me think.  I don’t intend to make light of our current challenges but that article suggested that we are far better off today than almost any time in history.  WW II saw almost 50 million people die.  WW I caused over 30 million deaths.  Plagues in earlier centuries resulted in loss of large percentages of the global population at the time.

“The examples were numerous and convincing to me that while we have many challenges, our condition is better than ever and we have great capacity to make life better and better.  Some of that is dependent upon the product of society but much of it is dependent upon just the intentions and efforts that each of us will offer.

“So, yes, the world near and far is yet to become all we could hope it to be, but if we have the opportunity to maintain good health, if we can remain surrounded by people important to us, and if we do all we can every day to offer all we can while never losing hope, we will be part of the better world we seek.

“And as we do that, we get to enjoy the smile of a child, we catch the loving lick of a four footed friend, we witness the natural beauty all around us, and life is good. Don’t lament the challenges.  Celebrate and be thankful for the ability to be part of striving to make them disappear.” – Gary Ezovski, former owner of Lincoln Environment and just elected town manager in North Smithfield, RI

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“Since the current political situation is so horrible, that leaves me with nothing to comment on concerning the future except how bad it is for the youngest members of my family.”—Bill Higdon, Excellent Energy Solutions, St. Cloud, Minnesota

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“Accepting people, no matter who they are.” – Mo Swanson

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“As a 58 year old person who has embraced diversity and raised my children to be open and inclusive I do reflect that we are in a time that every one of us just needs to remind ourselves to judge by actions and behavior versus spin and noise.”—Ed Kane, CA Technologies.

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“It is always wonderful to reflect upon what we are thankful for, especially with the holiday season approaching and all that is going on in the world. It was nice to have this reminder to remember to think about thankfulness and that there is truly so much to be grateful for.—Meg Fouhy, a public relations professional for Boston Red Sox corporate.
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“I have so much for which to be grateful. I have known great love, great loss, wonderful friendships that stood the test of time, many places all around this earth and a home filled with animals who love me. I have laughed wildly, have cried with heartbreak, have known the joy of children and grandchildren, have worried over inconsequential things and laughed at myself later. I have been blessed with sons and their families who are great people and a sister who is exceptional. And now I have achieved old age and still have my health and most of my mind. I really have had a wonderful life.” – Kathy Densberger, social worker and mental health consultant.

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“I feel blessed. I have had a wonderful life with ups and downs but all to the good in the final analysis. I love my family dearly and get their love in return. I have worked with great people. I am still growing as a person with new interests, new friends, and new experiences. Roll on.” — Neil Muscatiello, retired superintendent of schools in New York State.

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“This year has been a test of national civility and the fabric of free speech in a democratic republic. What letter grade would your readers give — and why?”—Chuck Rehberg, journalist, Spokane Review, Spokane Washington.

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“I, too, have been blessed with a loving family, wonderful friends and great opportunities. I have also been blessed, yes blessed, with challenges: grandchildren on the Autism spectrum, a spouse with Alzheimer’s and how, as a white male, can I be in solidarity with those in society who do not share in my privileged status. In these challenges I have turned to my faith and its call to love God with all I’ve got and to love my neighbor (everyone I encounter). This call has moved me well out of my comfort zone on many occasions to do things I never thought I would ever attempt. There is much more that I can do. I pray God will bless me with a few more years and the courage to accept some more challenges.” – Edward G. Martin, ship chandler, Delaware Ship Supply Co.

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“I love much. I’m thankful for the Arts.” – Gregory Jones

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“The dawn of a new day.” – Mary Ann Massaro

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“To be wealthy-one must be happy with what one has.”—Dave Hashaway, former director/account manager, Rhode Island Blood Center.

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“I encourage everyone to look around the table this year and take stock of everyone around the table.  As you know, we will have an empty seat for the holidays this year.  Thankfully, I always made certain to take pause each year and appreciate my Mom’s presence knowing that nothing is forever.” – Chris Maxwell, executive director of the Rhode Island Trucking Association.
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“I am thankful that at 90 years old that I am still living in my own home with my husband of 65 years.    I am thankful that I live in a country that strives to keep us all safe and to respect our individual ways of life.   I am thankful that I am still driving, gardening, and respectful of my neighbors, friends and family.” – Sylvia Wiser, my 90-year-old aunt.
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“I watched it (the following video) and cried a while. Feel better.”

 

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Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.