Reasons to be thankful

Published 12:09 am Saturday, November 21, 2009

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve last had a chance to share in the splendor of my life. But it’s been quite an interesting few days for me. So, let’s review what I’ve learned since the last time Suffolk has heard from me.

First of all, I learned that my bulbous belly is not just a thing to be revered and admired, but it is also a safety device.

The storm last week taught me that. On my way to work last Wednesday, I was sent hurling, in hydroplane, across three lanes of traffic on I-264, bouncing off a guard rail and coming to rest, quite safely if you could imagine, in the wrong direction on the roadside. Except for being a little shaken and a little steering wheel impression that now makes my tummy look like a smiley face, I was no worse for the wear.

Moreover, the storm hit my neighborhood in Norfolk pretty hard. People were being evacuated in hovercrafts. Homes were destroyed by flooding. Choosing to stay here in Suffolk the night of the storm, I did not get to witness the damage firsthand. There was, however, some concern for my beloved apartment.

So my first thought, as I awoke somewhere in the heart of this fine city, was to call the rental company and check on any damage to my place. After a pause on the phone, the receptionist at the realty company returned to the phone with an answer I simply could not believe, “Absolutely no damage whatsoever.”

There I was, all prepared to fish my wardrobe and favorite DVDs out of the Chesapeake Bay, but there was no damage. Amazing! So, in two potential catastrophes, I was batting two-for-two to the good.

And in light of all that, I feel I need to remind myself and others about the true meaning of the holiday about which I rave so regularly. The things we have and cherish can leave us as quickly as they come.

My car, which I have grown so fond of in all its understated reliability, could have been turned upside-down beneath the foliage on I-264. Yet it’s fine and parked outside the very building where I am writing this column.

My apartment could have been a pile of rubble in the Bay, yet it still stands in the same lovely state of disarray, with the same delightfully curious odor that it has always had. And, most importantly, I could be trapped and left for dead in a mangled car or taking a crash course in the dog-paddle or using my mattress as a makeshift raft while all my other possessions wash away. But I am fine and in the same state of slightly below average health that I always have been.

Thanksgiving should be about more than just all the food we intend to eat. It should be about acknowledging those things — the people, places, and, to a lesser degree, the possessions — we hold most precious.

So, forgive me if I’ve expressed too lightly the importance of a holiday like Thanksgiving by so blatantly focusing on the feast that will sit in front of us all on Thursday. We should be grateful that we have such a feast to enjoy, in a home others may not have.

Remember to be thankful this Thanksgiving. I know I will.