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Be thankful for all you have been given, this and every month

      This being the month of Thanksgiving, I thank God for the gifts he has bestowed upon me: my wife of nearly 45 years, my two sons, and grandchildren.

      I’ve never been hungry. In winter I am warm, and in summer I am cool. I own two machines that can take me any place in the country I want to go, when I want to go. The fuel to operate those two machines is relatively cheap.

      Electricity, running water, running hot water, a sewer system, garbage removal. A refrigerator, a washer and a dryer in my home, a job I love, paid vacation from that job. Health care and dental care.

      When a student suddenly gets it, and patience with students who don’t get it or don’t want to get it. The ability to read and write. The leisure to ponder, pray and wonder. The ability to vote for the people who will represent my interests in government.

      To worship God without fear of reprisal. To teach children about God without government interference.

      I can walk and see and hear. Beer. Internet. Not being consumed with the internet. Monasteries. Making oblation at a monastery. The Rule of St. Benedict. Friends. Colleagues. The ability to drive a car with a manual transmission. The ability to carry a tune and stay on pitch. Forests, and access to them. Door County, Wisc.

      Knowledge of four guitar chords. Canines on a leash. Rollercoasters. Coffee at Al Johnson’s in Sister Bay, Door County, Wisc. The ability to swim.

       My parents. Having played Little League baseball as a child. To stand in the batter’s box and see the curve ball coming. Fourth of July picnics at my aunt’s house when I was growing up. Christmas Eve at grandma’s. The film “Casablanca.” Joyce’s “Dubliners.” Shakespeare. Jean Leclercq. Thomas Merton.

      “Angel Baby” by Rosie and the Originals. Benny Goodman’s cover of “Sing Sing Sing.” George Gershwin. Cole Porter. Miles Davis. Chet Baker.

      Prayer at 3:30 in the morning. Sunrise. Sunset. The Easter Vigil. Midnight Mass. The freedom to walk in my neighborhood after prayer at 3:30 in the morning. Subzero weather. Mr. Blizzard. Warm sunny days in Door County. First and Second Vespers at St. Meinrad Archabbey.

      My high school English teacher, Mr. Richardson. Coming home and my wife is there. Eating dinner alone with my wife. My wife’s hair. Eating dinner with my wife at the Overlook restaurant in Leavenworth, Ind. The view of the Horseshoe Bend in the Ohio River from The Overlook.

      That my wife and I were high school sweethearts. Our first kiss. Having gone on retreat with my son for 10 straight years, from the time he was 9 until he was 18. That I can still ride a bicycle. Cedar Point Amusement Park.

      The NRSV of the Bible. Rosary and prayer rope. St. Bernard of Clairvaux. St. Therese of Lisieux. The Song of Songs in the Old Testament.

      The ability to make minestrone soup from scratch. My home library. Hearing my grandson call his father, my son, “Doh-dee.” Watching our grandchildren slide down the hill behind the house when it snows. Listening to WAKY (AM) out of Louisville, Ky. In 1968, when I was 14.

      The smell of bacon frying. Cauliflower. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, asparagus, crescent rolls, fruit salad and pecan pie with whipped cream.

      The Council of Nicaea and the Second Vatican Council.

      Side two of “Abbey Road” (obviously the vinyl). Long walks. Walks around St. Mary’s Lake at the Mundelein Seminary. My brother’s wine list. The family around the table. The stories. Putting up the Christmas tree while listening to the Norwegian Girls Choir sing “Personent Hodie.” Sipping Old Forester with my feet propped up. Diaconate.

      Be grateful for what you have.

 

            Deacon Mark Plaiss teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, I'll. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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