Thanks for giving

Voices around the county will be lifted in grateful prayers Thursday as thanks are given for the many blessings we’ve been granted individually and collectively.

Since we publish on Wednesdays, I get the chance to jump start the festivities, and there’s no better place to start than thanking the givers.

Folks who’ve lived in the county most of their lives probably don’t realize how much they take for granted when it comes to simple acts of giving, because it seems to come naturally out here in rural America.

It persists even though we cling to the myth that “everybody knows everybody” in our small towns. We don’t. Perhaps that might hold true in our tiniest hamlets, but as population grows, so does anonymity.

Don’t ask me to stand in front of a full auditorium at USD 408 Performing Arts Center and name everyone there. The Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment.

When you’re shopping for groceries, filling your car with gas, sitting down for dinner at a local restaurant, chances are good you’ll see familiar faces without names or total strangers.

Yet that doesn’t stop most people around here from treating those unfamiliars like neighbors. We nod and smile, even say hello. We open doors, carry packages, rush to someone’s aid when they stumble, stop cars to let someone back out of a parking spot, and on rare occasions, two cars will come to a standstill at an intersection as each driver insists the other go through first.

Of course, I can’t leave out my favorite local gesture of all, the one-finger steering wheel wave. I can count the number of times that one hasn’t been returned on, well, the other three fingers on that hand, leaving the thumb out of the equation altogether.

So much we take for granted in all of that, but having spent most of my adulthood in big cities, it’s easy to look at neighborly courtesy as a gift to treasure.

That sets the tone for the bigger gifts we give each other. Volunteers aplenty who donate time, talents, and money. We can always use more, but we shouldn’t overlook how many we have. I’m thankful for every last one of them.

I won’t be so silly as to try to list individuals or businesses that are major givers, for I’ll hear more about the ones I leave out than the ones I put in. But you don’t have to think too hard to come up with a pretty good list on your own.

It’s too easy to think about the challenges we have in the county and lose sight of this: Without the immense giving of gifts both simple and big, our collective goose would’ve been cooked a long time ago.

So thanks to the givers, one and all, thanks to the givers both big and small. The tiniest gifts are the place to start to show the world our incredible heart.

And as a gift to you, I promise that’s the last attempt at poetry you’ll see from me. For now. Happy Thanksgiving.

— david colburn

Last modified Nov. 24, 2016

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