I was born during World War II, at a time of great sacrifice for all Americans. Everything was in short supply at home to better support the war effort. My baby book was a simple magazine from the hospital where I was born, with spaces for my mother to record my medical stats and baby gifts.
The magazine included ads asking moms to give up the protection of rubber pants over cloth diapers so the rubber could be used to help our troops. Because Americans were sacrificing for an important cause, no one complained much.
Growing up, we had a house, one land-line telephone connected to the wall by a cord, one floor-model radio, one black-and-white TV, two cars, enough food, and a doctor who made house calls. We were very thankful for all of these luxuries.
Basic needs haven’t changed much over the decades — jobs to provide food, shelter, heat, medical care, transportation to get from here to there, and a loving community to help struggling neighbors, knowing that with a change in the wind, we could be that neighbor in need.
Most people today have more than families did in the 1940s and 1950s, like bigger homes, cell phones, color TV, the Internet and a whole host of electronic gear I’m clueless about. But, during today’s economic downturn, many people are losing their jobs and their homes, sacrificing a lot more than the rubber pants of my childhood — and not for a cause they can understand or support.
Many decades later, I live a relatively simple life in Cambria’s backcountry. I remind myself daily how lucky I am to have a job that helps pay the bills, a warm house to come home to, and enough food to eat. I am especially thankful for our beloved family and friends who support us with their love and share with us their time and the bounty of their orchards and gardens.
I am thankful for our telephone that keeps us connected to our family members in Southern California, electricity from our solar panels, water from our spring and enough gasoline to get to town to work and do errands. If everyone in this country could have these basics covered, this would be a truly great Thanksgiving.
I am thankful for the good health that gives me the energy to keep up with everything I have spooned onto my plate. I am also thankful for the peace and quiet where we live and the stunning wildlife that honor us with their daily visits.
Finally, I am thankful to have some of our family joining us at our Thanksgiving table. It appears that one of our wild turkey neighbors would like an invite as well — but would undoubtedly prefer to be a dinner guest, not a menu item.
Celebrate your blessing this Thanksgiving and, if you are able, extend a hand to someone in our community who could use the gentle touch of friendship.
Marcia Rhoades lives in Cambria’s Santa Lucia mountains.