Last weekend, my youngest son starred in the play “Heaven Help the Po’taters” at his high school. The students did a tremendous job with the melodrama. The audience roared with laughter at several parts. Here is the cast after a job well done.
During the intermission, the students didn’t get a break. They entertained us with jokes and we sang songs from the time period of the melodrama, such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “Shine on Harvest Moon.” These are songs that nowadays everyone seems to know the tune but not the lyrics. Because of this, my son said, his fellow actors sang softly.
Then their demeanor changed as they started singing:
Gloom, despair and agony on me; Deep dark depression, unending misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair and agony on me.
As they sang, the students were louder and there were broad grins. They enjoyed singing the old “Hee Haw” tune and added their own exaggerated miseries to it. I remember this song from my childhood, as I sat in front of the television watching the old comedy hour. It always made me laugh and it still does.
While I think the intention of this song is to get us to think that we don’t have it so bad, a lot of people seem to enjoy concentrating on every little thing that ails them. In fact, they concentrate on it so much that they actually become miserable. Even for people who don’t concentrate solely on their own problems, it can actually take a lot of effort to tear our thoughts away from what we may think is our gloom and despair.
In church recently, our pastor said that the barometer to our spiritual life is whether or not we are grateful. This statement really stayed with me, especially as the Thanksgiving holidays approach. In the U.S.A, we have just reached the end of a heated election. I think we focused so much on what makes us angry that we have lost sight of why we should be grateful. I don’t usually get political on this blog, but the lack of gratefulness in my country when we have so much is really apparent this year. People are even willing to go so far as to break relationships and spread news that isn’t true just to get what they think they need. It’s rather distressing. As we draw near to Thanksgiving Day it seems more acute. According to the press, some people have said that they are not meeting with their families due to the political divide.
Even in this difficult atmosphere, I am thankful for my country. I am thankful for many things – God, family, a sturdy house, food on the table, a warm bed, Fall weather. There are so many things that I can’t name them all.
I like this quote:
O Infinite Father, I’m grateful to Thee
For the moon and the stars and deep rolling sea;
For beauties of nature, where e’er they may be…
For the handclasp of friends, so firm and so true;
For sunrise and sunset and glistening dew;
The fleecy white clouds and the Heavens, so blue;
For these wonderful gifts, dear Lord, I thank you!
~Gertrude T. Buckingham, “My Song of Thanksgiving”
And, this one …
Wouldn’t it be an exhilarating tonic for the soul to take a moment to appreciate the simple, good things in life which are so bountiful…? ~Author unknown, c.1949
Thanking God for simple, ordinary, even dull things enables us to remain grateful during difficulty. For, as Jean Baptiste Massieu said, “gratitude is the memory of the heart.”
I also like what Frank A. Clark said, “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.”
Indeed. It’s hard to be around ungrateful people, isn’t it? They tend to suck the joy right out of you.
Speaking of joy, I recently came across this quote from mystic David Steindl-Rast: “The root of joy is gratefulness.”
No matter where you live, no matter what is happening, if we are grateful we will have joy.
Have a joyful Thanksgiving!