For some of us, giving thanks is to endure a chilling winter — The Long View

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As you may have noticed, a substantial portion of the nation recently received a bone-chilling dose of genuine winter.  As I mentioned to everyone within earshot, this is a lot more January that I like to see this time of year.

Like many Californians, my big brother regards anything east of the Rockies east as one big address.  Seeing the big snowstorms on television, he called to ask if I was okay. As Buffalo is 300 miles away from my home, I had to shovel a mere two and a half inches of the white stuff.

As you may have noticed, a substantial portion of the nation recently received a bone-chilling dose of genuine winter.  As I mentioned to everyone within earshot, this is a lot more January that I like to see this time of year.

Like many Californians, my big brother regards anything east of the Rockies east as one big address.  Seeing the big snowstorms on television, he called to ask if I was okay. As Buffalo is 300 miles away from my home, I had to shovel a mere two and a half inches of the white stuff.

Still, the earlier-than-normal arctic blast was aggravating.  Every morning, the windshield frost needs scraping and the car inside doesn’t warm up for miles. Adding insult to potential injury, as road conditions turn icy and treacherous, gas mileage plummets.

The wintry weather is, in fact, a hassle. To survive, one must dress accordingly; long underwear now goes on before my blue jeans, and an old parka is my constant companion for every foray outdoors.  My home heating bill has risen; every time the furnace kicks on, exhaust wheezes from the chimney and dollars fly from my wallet.

Nonetheless, the sting of each bitter breeze goes away at the thought that unlike many people, I'm ready for winter.  Every morning my car starts, something to be glad for while motoring past those shivering souls at the bus stop.

Unlike some folks, my coat, boots, and clothing are more than adequate for cold weather.  And, in contrast to my less-fortunate fellow citizens, I not only have a place to live, but can pay to keep it warm all season.

Last week I briefly saw my two sons at their mother's home. Stressed by the demands of school, work, and girlfriends, they seemed preoccupied and a little sullen as I said hello.  Each in turn, they briefly acknowledged me before returning to the rigors of midterms, school assignments, and the minimum required on their household chore lists.

I might have felt a little put out they had so little time and energy for me, but the night before my ukulele ensemble had played a gathering at the world-class hospital one town over.  There, I received a healthy dose of perspective.

That evening we performed for families and their desperately ill children, many of the latter connected to medical devices by wires and tubes. Seeing the worry-lined faces of parents singing “You Are My Sunshine” to their sick sons and daughters, I had to turn away, choking back the lump in my throat.

It is easy to get caught up in how we wish things were and what we wish we had.  But if we really look around, we might better appreciate our glass is more than half-full. 

On this occasion of national thanks, how good it is to remember how comparatively good we have it.  Here's hoping your Thanksgiving finds you feasting on heaping helpings of gratitude.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com