We hope you find yourself with family and friends today. That you have a job and that your mortgage or rent payments are up to date. We hope your children are well and feel secure in their home. We hope you have a special person you love and who loves you, and that you are both in good health.
If you have all that, and a turkey on your table, then you are truly blessed.
However, this will be a much more tenuous Thanksgiving for many among us. Over the past year, large forces beyond our control have conspired to make things so difficult for so many people
At this time last year, we were just beginning the long slide into what is now being called the Great Recession. Last November, even darker clouds were gathering. The financial system was in chaos and large investment banks were failing. Many feared we were facing a monumental economic collapse.
Fortunately, that has not come to pass. But the past year has been a bitter disaster for many of our fellow citizens. Hundreds of families in our own area have lost their homes and savings to foreclosure. Many proud homeowners are now renters, have moved in with relatives or are homeless.
Many others have lost their jobs or have had their wages or work hours cut as the economy unraveled. You know the cycle — people worried about their jobs and homes don't like to spend money. When money isn't being spent, companies can't sell goods so they cut jobs. As a result, even more people are out of work and afraid to spend.
The result has been devastating. Fortunately, even that trend seems to be slowly reversing.
This Thanksgiving will be just as difficult for those families who carry the burden of defending our nation at a time of war. Many Maine families are missing spouses, children or grandchildren, their family members observing this holiday in a foreign land and harm's way.
For them, seeing the empty spot at the dining room table will be especially difficult. For a small group of Maine's military families, that spot will always be empty. Sadly, the members of our armed forces have been at war now for eight years and the end is no where in sight.
There's little we can say to those who are suffering this Thanksgiving. Often, the people who have lost the most can most fully appreciate the blessings that remain. We hope they can keep their spirits up by realizing that tough times don't last forever.
Many of us have come through all this trouble relatively unscathed. We still have jobs, warm homes and the good feeling of family members close at hand.
If the difficulties of the past year show us anything, it is that the blessings we take for granted can be fragile and fleeting. And that realization, perhaps, is what makes them so precious.