“If you think Independence Day is America’s defining holiday, think again. Thanksgiving deserves that title, hands-down.” — Tony Snow

Tony Snow is gone, the too-young victim of cancer. But the words of this presidential spokesman carry on.

It’s Thanksgiving, a day and season of symbolic turkey and too much food, football – even if it is the winless Detroit Lions – and family. It’s a day we literally give thanks. For what? Our gratitude can be both personal and national.

We get to live in these United States of America, civilization’s greatest foray into human advancement. Of course, our nation has its flaws. The president-elect described our union as a place, and an idea, still evolving, and yet to be perfected. He knows, and his election is evidence of, that America is the ideal of freedom, giving its citizens the opportunity to do what they want in a personal pursuit of happiness, free speech and practice of faith.

Further, our economy fuels the world’s prosperity; just look at what’s happening globally as the American economic machine struggles. Our democracy is the envy of the world’s oppressed; people from elsewhere give up everything to live and work in America. We help those who need help, and combat those who harm the innocent. Corny, yes, but true.

The people fighting our fights are in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and elsewhere this Thanksgiving holiday. These fine citizens who serve in our armed forces protect us, making great personal sacrifices. We wish for them safety, and peace. Their families, some of them right here in Tucson, are sacrificing, too. We are grateful for them.

As we give thanks at Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful for the unrivaled gift of living in the US of A, a land of good, and plenty.

Our thanks come on a personal level, too.

You are reading this, which means you have the gift of sight, and the brainpower to process information. You are likely living in a single-family home in Northwest Tucson (our distribution area), which means you are having a level of financial success. You get to live in one of the world’s beautiful places, a unique and diverse land that is warm in winter. You are among interesting people. The Southwest’s economic and cultural pursuits are excellent.

Here’s to our health and well-being, our gifts and opportunities. May we be graceful, humble and gracious.

As we ponder thankfulness, let us ponder giving, too. There are so many people around us who are less fortunate, struggling with the immediate effects of this economic time. Don’t forget them this holiday. Give, of yourself and your possessions, to brighten the lives of someone else. It is always amazing how such giving helps … the giver.

Tony Snow got it right. Thanksgiving deserves the title of America’s defining holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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