Many reasons to give thanks, many blessings not to be taken for granted

After the year we’ve had, uncertainties and upheavals, we can use some Thanksgiving. Welcome turkey, smell the sage in the dressing, the voices of loved ones sound so lovely.

This year I am most thankful for being warm, a condition we take way too much for granted. This is on my mind because of a couple of cold outings I recently weathered.

One was a late October camping trip where the temp dropped below freezing. Modern tent materials are mighty thin. Cold is really cold when it’s on your skin and not just a number on the weather news.

Also, in early November my day job required working outdoors from sunrise till after sunset on a Saturday and Sunday. Damp misty cold is extra cold.

Being warm is such a blessing.

Somewhere in Platte County tonight people are all bundled up because the heat is turned way down to save on the electric or the gas bill. Or they don’t have utilities working because of tight money.

That doesn’t seem feasible to most of us. We’re used to ticking the thermostat up a notch if the chill seems unpleasant.

I am thankful I can make that tick as winter nears.

Somewhere in the county a young couple ponders their wood pile. They’re going with wood this winter out of financial necessity or just to see if they can.

A friend and I recently discussed our passage through this phase of life, way back in our youth.

I love wood heat, but it’s a lot of work. There’s wood to cut, split and stack. Wood to carry in. Ashes to carry out. Ashes to vacuum up because they always spill around the stove, as do the little pieces of dirt and bark that fall off firewood as you carry it in.

If you don’t, the stove grows cold, so does the house and so do you. Anyone who has ever relied on wood heat to get them through the winter is nodding as they read this.

My generation’s ancestors likely worried that we were a bit soft because we didn’t know how to chop wood. They were right.

I worry about the same in my kids, for whom wood heat is a fire in a fireplace built for fun.

We all are a bit spoiled now, actually.

We count on electric crews to fix the power lines if ice or wind drops them. The propane delivery truck is a phone call away. Central air and heat is wonderfully efficient and has made me lazy compared to my grandfather.

But honestly, I’m grateful. Here are some other blessings I’m thankful for this week.

Our grocery stores hold a remarkable diversity of food. It’s amazing really, how we can choose food from the sea or soil, fresh and raw or in a package, frozen or canned, dried or just cooked at the deli. Thank you farmers and grocers.

My cap is tipped to the Missouri Highway Patrol, sheriff’s deputies and city police officers. The world is a bit crazy and you never know what the day will bring.

Thanks also for all you do to bring a bit of civility to the highways. The careful commuters know how reckless and aggressive drivers make patrolling the highways difficult.

Thank you to all voters who study carefully candidates and issues, absorbing information from multiple media outlets and sources, contemplating how you will mark your ballot. However you have voted, the studious and informed voter is critical to a healthy democracy.

I’m grateful for green space, parks, wild places. So are most Platte Countians and they want them as part of the future.

Thank you public school teachers, administrators, school board members, coaches, bus drivers and parents who volunteer to help out with programs and field trips. Public schools are the backbone of American greatness, and we’re fortunate to have good ones in Platte County.

My thanks to numerous elected city officials and civil servants. In a quiet way, you give time and energy to keep our communities pleasantly livable.

I also offer thanks to people who I do not know, but I know you are there.

I was in line this autumn at a fast food place when a stranger explained the efforts of her service club to aid the community. Quietly they help people. The same is true of churches, civic service clubs, and neighbors simply helping neighbors.

Human kindness is a wonderful thing, a different type of warmth, just as important.

Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at