Thanks for everything

PHOTO: Nate Griggs, Flickr CC-BY

It’s Thanksgiving week, but you can hardly tell. Everyone’s so angry. Prices are up and there aren’t enough teenagers to work the lobby at our favorite fast food joint. The news provides near constant disappointment. Things don’t work, all because of the current president or the last one, according to our favorite talking internet person. 

Thank you for hearing. Thanks for sight. Thanks for thought.

Thanksgiving seemed an easier concept when we would imagine the pilgrims and Native Americans sitting at a long table in a clear green field, passing the yams and cranberries from a can. We now know that this never happened. The real story was cruel and heartbreaking. But the myth was a happy story. It’s hard to let those go.

Thanks for learning. Thanks for the ability to forgive and be forgiven. Thank you most of all for healing and the time it takes.

It’s difficult to see how this all turns around. Folks near me in northern Minnesota talk about guns and ammo like we are in some kind of war. But how many sides are there in this war? I thought we were all on the same side. 

Thank you for the ability to choose peace and the warm feeling of acceptance that comes with it.

Maybe it’s true what they say, that climate change and social strife will bring a century of woe. Perhaps we call it sin. Or perhaps we call it ignorance. 

Thank you for the simple fact that we can’t change the past. Thank you, too, that we have remarkable ability to shape the present and sometimes influence the future. Thanks for now and all it can provide.

For every “laughing face” and “angry” button punched on Facebook, there is a child’s shoe being tied. A weak and tired person finds themselves lifted into bed. A simple action by one feeds the many.

Every fit of rage may be calmed with service to others. Every anxiety may be lifted with service to others. Thank you that there is always something helpful to do.

Even as America’s most innocent holiday approaches, a day dedicated to gratitude and eating, we will at once be inundated with messages that we should not eat unless it is just the right food, or that we should eat even more of the least healthy food. Then we will be told that we do not have enough stuff, not nearly enough as we should.

Thank you that this is not true. Thank you that we most often have enough, and that healthy behavior may be found in a mind free of cluttered advertisements and self-serving admonishments.

Yes, we see our hospitals fill with patients fighting COVID-19, now among the grim realities of life in this century. Many of us know that the table will be set for one less, sometimes more, because of these awful last two years.

Thank you that we possess tools to help prevent disease and care for one another. Thanks for all those who recovered and all those whose future suffering can be alleviated. Thank you that it is never too late to learn from what has happened here and help those around us.

No, these times seem devoid of rainbows, shared prosperity, and simplicity. And yet such pleasures remain possible and not so far away.

Most of all, thank you for life, as long as it lasts. Thank you for people to fill that life. Thanks for everything.

(Oh, and Thank U, Alanis Morissette. Also, apologies).

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and co-hosts the podcast “Power in the Wilderness” on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021 edition of the Mesabi Tribune.




  1. Asher Castaldo says

    Thank you for this moment of gratitude. We have such good in this world, including people like you, Aaron.

  2. Elanne Palcich says

    Thank you, Aaron, for helping keep things in perspective.

  3. Beautifully written. Thank you for taking the time to select each of these words and arrange them into sentences that we can all understand and benefit from. Thank you for everyone who demonstrates patience with a child. Or with an elderly person. Or with anyone.

  4. Sweet. Thank you, Aaron.

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