Thanksgiving for a dog who has lost his bite

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “I’m accustomed to a smooth ride or maybe I’m a dog who’s lost its bite.” Paul Simon Thanksgiving looks different to me with miles and age upon my eyes. The splendor of Thanksgiving to me is always tempered by the realization these gifts are not always deserved. For my undeserved gifts I am thankful and mindful of my life made better.
     Our nation has changed in my lifetime from these feelings of thankfulness to the point that some people feel entitled to Thanksgiving. They forget being thankful. Rather than pleased, they are bored since they are supposed to get everything they want.
     Our nation has gone from some who look at their glass to see if it is half full to those who are stuck just looking for a glass. The majority do not dialog the glass half empty or full, they maintain they are entitled to the glass so hand it over.
     Some will spend time on Thanksgiving remembering Thanksgivings past when glasses were held by loved ones who are long since gone. It is the consequence of age to live beyond people we have loved. In my lifetime so much has been gained in our society and so much lost.
     Like Paul Simon there are times when I think I am a dog who has lost his bite in today’s world. That is a common thought to those over the age of sixty in a world that worships youth. When I was young old people were revered. No longer. Knowledge is not even revered, only political advantage.
     It is Thanksgiving week and as usual I am thankful. However, none of what I really hold close to my heart is material. There was a time when I was younger that all I could think of was Martin guitars. Forty some years later I still have those two guitars, a six string and a 12 string Martin. They have traveled with me for decades and they mean less to me than a granddaughter’s smile.
     While I do occasionally have a smooth ride in life, compared to others, I have never become accustomed to a smooth ride. No, this life of mine has always been stormy, just as I have liked it to be. Early in my life I found that a placid ride held no interest for me.
     In the storms of life I am captain of my ship, though I cannot control the weather. So I must adjust to the changing weather of life. While I habitually am not much to worry, the future of this nation does worry me because of the challenges, not to me, but to the next generations.
     In fact, I am worried not because of what our leaders are doing, rather, because of what my fellow citizens are not doing. This Thanksgiving is a good example of this change in America. Years ago we got down on our knees to give thanks to Almighty God for that which we were given despite being flawed humans. We were honestly and completely thankful. It was not just a photo-opportunity, it was what we felt.
     Today many Americans rise from their Thanksgiving table saying, “I certainly deserve this and more.” Rising from the table with the butter from the rolls still on their lips many citizens do not see the thanks in Thanksgiving. For these modern American citizens the holiday does not resemble what it has been in the past.Read full column