Lost in the daily din of TSA screening screams and should Bristol Palin win “Dancing with the Stars” invective, is a proper seriousness about what we have to be thankful for. We live in the greatest time to live in history. A middle class American today has a far better life than a European king had 200 years ago. Losing a child to illness is highly unusual whereas only 150 years ago one in three children died before the age of six. We have access to more calories, ease of transportation, housing, clothing and entertainment for less money in terms of hours of effort to obtain them than ever before. Life spans are longer and the sciences of the mind allow us to build our capacities for happiness and caring. When my great grandmother came to the United States 100 years ago she left behind her parents and her three sisters. She was 16 when she came with her 18 year old husband and she never saw her family again. One of her sisters was killed in a pogrom, another died in some Stalin related atrocity in the 1930’s and a third was killed by the Nazi’s. Everyone’s story who lives in America is a bit different but nearly all contain the element of how fortunate we are to live in such a wonderful country where each of us can live largely the way we wish. Such a blessing is historically unusual and we should never lose sight of how fortunate we are and how hard our predecessors worked to lay the foundations for what we have. They were tolerant of each other and defined family as more than the nuclear unit that they ate turkey with each Thanksgiving. They defined family as the whole nation and it was that which has given us what we have today.

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