My Thoughts, Exactly:

Next Thursday, families and friends all across the nation from Barrow, Alaska, to Key West, Florida; from Lubec, Maine, to Kailua, Hawaii; and all across the Crescenta Valley will sit down to feasts of turkey, mashed potatoes and, most importantly, pumpkin pie. This caloric excess will, of course, be in celebration of one of two uniquely American holidays, Thanksgiving (the other being 4th of July).

Every year at this time I marvel that the mega-marketers still haven’t found a profitable way to commercialize this annual event. The limited number of Thanksgiving-themed greeting cards and decorations pale in comparison to every other major holiday. Frankly, I’m glad that many of the Thanksgiving decorations in our home were made years ago by our kids in their Monte Vista Elementary School classrooms. Seriously, could anything from Hallmark compete with “turkey art” produced by dipping a 6-year-old’s tiny hand in tempera paint? I think not.

I’m also thankful that lawns all over town are not festooned with inflatable pilgrim displays (although just yesterday I saw a huge blow-up turkey wearing a pilgrim hat and waving from a front yard on Ocean View — and so it begins). We also haven’t started hanging glittery miniature muskets or glow-in-the-dark corncobs from tall, artificial, fiber-optic-lit turkeys in our living rooms. Not yet, at least.

While I’m on the subject of thankfulness, I find myself grateful for more things than ever this holiday season. For example, I’m thankful for the roof over my family’s heads. Yes, it has decreased in value from a year ago. But its worth has also consistently increased, often by ridiculous amounts, since we bought it many years ago. If home prices only went up, there’d be no hope of my kids or grandkids ever buying a home without moving to Bucktooth, Arkansas.

Speaking of kids, I’m thankful mine were able to attend public schools that were far-and-away better than many all-too-spendy private schools. For all its faults, frustrations and a social agenda that has grown increasingly opposite to our own world-view, we’ve always considered the GUSD a net blessing.

I’m thankful that my kids were raised in the same relatively safe, small-town environs of the Crescenta Valley where both my wife and I were also born and raised. There are many worse places to live.

I’m thankful that, for another few years at least, “red” and “blue” can go back to being just colors in a box of Crayons.

I’m also thankful that — since the election went their way — such national cultural icons as Heidi Klum, Seal, Susan Sarandon, Akon and others won’t be moving to another country as they had threatened. Dodged that artistic bullet, didn’t we?

I’m thankful that the best trained, best equipped and most dedicated firefighters and emergency personnel on the planet happen to live and work in Southern California. Talk about dodging bullets.

I’m thankful for the iChat software on my MacBook that enables my wife and me to see and talk to our three grandchildren living so far across the ocean. They would only know their “TuTu” and “Kapuna” by way of care packages and far-too-infrequent vacation visits without this amazing technology. Do I wish our video visits didn’t always seem to happen in the middle of Dancing with the Stars or the Office episodes? Nah, not too much.

I’m thankful that my wife and I will celebrate the upcoming holiday with three of our four kids, one son-in-law and four dogs 300 miles north of here in the crisp, thin air of the Eastern Sierras. Being among towering Lodgepole pines, hiking on trails dusted with early season snowfall, communing with loved ones makes me even more aware of the beauty and majesty of God’s creation and of His constant bounty of undeserved blessings.

Thanks so very much.


JIM CHASE is a longtime Crescenta Valley resident. He can be reached at jim@wordchaser.com.

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