Nowell Briscoe is a former Monroe resident living in Atlanta. He writes a monthly column on the history of Walton County. His email address is nowellbriscoe@bellsouth.net.

As everyone will agree, 2020 has been a year like none we have ever experienced. The horrible and deadly coronavirus has decimated not only the global population but has also resulted in the almost total shutdown of our economy as we knew it.

And now comes a holiday we all look forward to, especially this year as we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing on Nov. 11, 1620. But with the spike in COVID-19 cases on a daily basis across the country, and adding more insult, our holiday season this year will be completely different. No more large gatherings of family and friends, and those students who are actually in college are being told not to come home to celebrate and those who usually travel at this time are rethinking their plans for fear of contracting the virus.

In light of the unpleasant but necessary social restrictions regarding Thanksgiving and Christmas, just what can we do to create a bit of happiness and contentment as we usher in what is typically the happiest seasons of the year?

This year as we pare down our holiday feast, we need to think back to all those other years when family and friends could join together without fear. We need to dig deep and bring out things of sentimental value to use which evoke memories of yesteryear. We can continue to make the traditional foods as we always have and decorate but with limitations.

My old issues of Ideals Thanksgiving and Autumn issues always bring comfort to me as I peruse the pages of the brightly colored trees, fields of pumpkins, farmland where the cornstalks are piled together and in another setting you might see a flock of turkeys wondering just who will it be that makes it to the dinner table. And perennial favorites this time of year are the timeless classics, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” and reaching all the way back to 1965, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” If these glimpses back to a happier time don’t evoke smiles at this time of year, you should not get any pecan pie for dessert!

When I have needed an upbeat approach to the turbulence life throws at us, I often refer to the old columns written by Celestine Sibley, the late author and columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Searching through my notebooks of her columns I found the following poem she considered one of her favorites and used often in describing the beauty of the Thanksgiving season.

The author Louis Bromfield seemed to capture much of what Celestine found beautiful in the world in the Thanksgiving season and I wanted to share it with you.

What to Be Thankful For

Oh, Lord, I thank You for the privilege and gift of living in a world filled with beauty and excitement and variety.

I thank You for the gift of loving and being loved, for the friendliness and understanding and beauty of the animals on the farm and in the forest and marshes, for the green of the trees, the sound of a waterfall, the dark beauty of the trout in the brook.

I thank You for the delights of music and children, of other men’s thoughts and conversations and their books to read by the fireside or in bed with the rain falling on the roof or snow blowing just outside the window.

I thank You for the beauties of the four seasons and of the churches and houses built by fellow men that stand throughout the centuries as monuments to men’s aspirations and sense of beauty.

I thank You for the powers of mind which find in the universe and endless and inexhaustible source of interest and fascination, for the understanding of so many elements which make life precious.

I thank You for all the senses You have bestowed upon me and for the delights which they bring me. I thank You for my body itself which is so wonderful and delightful a mechanism.

I thank You for the smile on the face of a woman, for the touch of a friend’s hand, for the laughter of a child, the wagging tail of a dog and the touch of his cold nose against my face.

I thank You for all these things and many more, and above all I thank You for people with all their goodness and understanding which far outweigh their vices, their envy, their deceits.

Thank You, God, for life itself, without which the universe would have no meaning.

———

The following creed by Virginia Myers has always been a source of courage and inspiration so I share it here in hopes it will give others a glimpse that if we just look for it, there IS a silver lining to our lives most especially in this time of upheaval and uncertainty.

A Creed for the Discouraged

I believe that God created us to be happy, to enjoy the blessings of life, to be useful to our fellow-beings and an honor to our country.

I believe that the trials which beset us today are but the fiery tests by which our character is strengthened, ennobled and made worthy to enjoy the higher things of life, which I believe are in store for us.

I believe our souls are too grand to be crushed by defeat; we will rise above it.

I believe we are the architects of our own fate; therefore,

We will be master of circumstances and surroundings, not their slave.

We will not yield to discouragements, we will trample them under foot and make them stepping stones to success. We will conquer our obstacles and turn them into opportunities.

Our failures of today will help to guide us on to victory on the morrow.

The morrow will bring new strength, new hopes, new opportunities and new beginnings. We will be ready to meet them with a brave heart, a calm mind and an understanding spirit.

In all things we will do our best, and leave the rest to the Infinite.

We will not waste our mental energies by useless worry. We will learn to dominate our restless thoughts and look on the brighter side of things.

We will face the world bravely, we will not be cowards. We will assert our God-given birthright and be strong. For we are immortal and nothing can overcome us.

———

Thanksgiving is a time for remembrance, reflection and appreciation for the many good things in our lives. While this year has been especially hard having to endure so many negative aspects along with the coronavirus and the loss of so many thousands of people across the world, the old adage, “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” should give us courage and determination to do our best to fight the virus as determined by the health professionals and to look beyond the chaos we now find ourselves in and seek out the warm, beautiful memories of Thanksgiving’s of the past to find the strength and courage to face the challenges of today’s holiday season.

No matter how many changes have to be made in order to have a traditional Thanksgiving celebration that will bring even a glimmer of happiness and peace, I hope everyone will find it within themselves to make this Thanksgiving as special as it can be.

Monroe native Nowell Briscoe writes a history column monthly for The Walton Tribune. His email address is nowellbriscoe@bellsouth.net.

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