A person can find power by giving thanks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 2, 2004

As we gathered, I was reminded about the ways I say thanks. Often it goes like this in my prayers: "Thank you, God, for each and every blessing you have bestowed upon me.

Thank you, God, for each and every blessing you have bestowed upon those connected to me whether by blood, official relationship, common endeavor or common struggle.

I thank you, for the blessings have been many: some we perceive and some we don’t.

Thank you, God, for each and every blessing."

Being thankful is so powerful.

I was so thankful as we gathered.

"We" being most of the 11 living children of the 13 born to Sam and Ola Mae Sanders.

"We" also being our children and grandchildren, an aunt and other relatives.

I was just thankful that we had lived to see another year to gather together in thanks.

Being thankful is so powerful.

As we gathered through our stories, we were reminded that as we grew up, one of my mother’s prayers was: "Lord, let me live long enough to see all my children fully grown."

Ola Mae did not want her large brood of children to be burdens on others.

Neither did she want her children to bear the burden of growing up without their Mamma and Daddy.

Except for the sister who died as a baby and the brother who died in Vietnam, Daddy lived until his youngest child was 37.

Mamma lived until her youngest child was 39.

My mother often expressed thanks that her prayers were answered, saying, "Thank God I lived to see all my children grown and on their own."

Being thankful is so powerful.

As we gathered, I was reminded of the way so many of the old folks prayed: "Thank you God for my lying down last night.

Thank you for my rising up this morning.

Thank you God for my seeing another day.

Thank you for my being in my right mind with a reasonable portion of health and strength."

And so on.

Being thankful is so powerful.

As we gathered, I was reminded that I was not always thankful.

I certainly did not appreciate the old folk prayers.

I would think to myself, "I don’t know why they are thanking God for lying down and getting up.

That isn’t anything special.

Nearly everyone who laid down last night got up this morning."

I just did not understand the power of being thankful, but the old folk did.

For that, I am thankful.

As we gathered, I was reminded of my mother saying," Son, whatever you count, that’s what you will have the most of.

So you might as well count your blessings."

I am so thankful that I learned a little of her great wisdom so I can count my blessings no matter the circumstances.

As we gathered in Bay Minette from far and near, from as far as Rochester, New York and as near as a few blocks, I thought about how I grew in thankfulness as I grew out of ignorance and selfishness.

Now I say thank you so often people sometimes say, "You don’t have to thank me for that.

It’s part of my job; it’s part of my responsibility."

They don’t understand that my saying "thank you " is as much for me as for them.

I now know what the old folks knew so well:

that being thankful is so powerful.

As we gathered, four generations strong commencing with one of my mother’s two living siblings, Eliza Inge, and ending with Princeness, a two-month-old baby, we were so thankful.

Some said thanks for my deceased Aunt Catherine who took us in and cared for us when she didn’t have to do it.

I was thankful because she allowed me to live with her when I first went North.

Several thanked Aunt Eliza for letting them live with her when they left Alabama and traveled a thousand miles to a strange place called New York.

We were thankful because they didn’t have to do it but they did.

Being thankful is so powerful.

As we gathered, I was thankful for the sharing spirit that imbued this gathering.

I was thankful that each of us brought at least one dish so the burden did not fall on any one family.

That mutual sharing forged a cooperative and thankful spirit because each family gave and each family received.

Being thankful is so powerful.

As we gathered, some of the younger adults sought our wisdom though their questions and we answered through our stories.

As we gathered, we were reminded from whence we came, how far we have come and how far we still have to go. As we gathered, we were reminded that we must start where we are, take what we have and make what we need.

As we gathered, we were reminded that we must each serve in the spirit of those who have gone before us; that we stand on their shoulders; and that it’s our duty to reach higher and see farther.

As we gathered, we were so thankful to gather together in thanks on this Thanksgiving Day in the year of our Lord, 2004.

Being thankful is so powerful.