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Out of the Blue

The American Holiday

Giving thanks, both great and small

By Deborah Salomon

Just about the whole month of November will be influenced by Thanksgiving, a truly American holiday not co-opted by other countries. Yes, Canada has Thanksgiving, but it’s in October and minor, with no school closings or family gatherings. Or Black Fridays.

Columnists regularly compile “thankful” lists centering on family and friends — also football, turkey and pumpkin spice lattes — ignoring the agonies of delayed flights, resurging COVID and the price of that Butterball bearing no resemblance to the flat-chested, gamey-flavored bird the Pilgrims supposedly spit-roasted over an open fire and consumed al fresco. If they were even able to shoot one.

I’ve attended a re-enactment and, believe me, it’s no picnic.

This November initiates another ominous happening: the 12-month election countdown, promising an extra helping of vitriol, animosity, rants and ravings.

Fear not. I won’t go there. You can be thankful for that.

Instead, I am grateful for the Sandhills winter, a reward for surviving hot, humid summers, which can last six months. I recall only one uncomfortably cold day last winter: Christmas, which required my Vermont goose down parka at the Santa Project bike giveaway. Otherwise, classify local winters as “brisk,” nothing more.

I am thankful for animal lovers, who care for homeless, hungry dogs and kitties. Moore County is fortunate to have several rescue organizations, but there are never enough. I am a lifelong caregiver but won’t divulge the details. I feed the birds, too. Watching them and their humanesque behaviors (including a pair of crows raising their young ’uns every spring) is more relaxing than anything Big Pharma prescribes.

I am extremely thankful for our medical community. When I tell people who live elsewhere about the gorgeous hospital, the separate cancer and cardiac facilities, the free parking/shuttle bus, the walk-in locations, concierge service to free clinics, the Clara McLean Hospitality House for patient families, the nurse navigator service, Hospice House on a pond beside a chapel, they dismiss it as exaggeration. But I know, from writing about them, as well as needing them.

I am thankful for farmers markets and farmstands. We need one in West Southern Pines. How about an old-fashioned curb market, where farmers sell directly from their trucks?

I am thankful for my grandsons who, in a world consumed with problems impacting young adults, turned out so well. They grew up without a father, my son, who died when they were 6 and 7. Yet at 25 and 26 both are happy, healthy, outgoing, and self-supporting in careers they chose when they were still little boys: one a successful attorney, the other a certified mechanic at a fancy car dealership. Best of all, they love their Nanny and are generous with hugs.

After 15 years, I am super-thankful for my job. The Pilot and PineStraw have become beacons in an industry whose lights are fading. I’m in touch with colleagues working for faltering news organizations, while ours keeps expanding — new products, fresh young staffers, an updated workspace suitable for a thriving journalistic mini-empire.

Lastly, I’m thankful for the millions of turkeys who sacrificed their lives so we could gather around a table laden with goodies. I don’t eat meat except on holidays and in the line of duty as a food writer. But on Thanksgiving I enjoy a well-done turkey thigh beside a mound of homemade cornbread stuffing, which means roasted inside, not outside, the bird, all doused with cranberry chutney.

So, bad as things may seem — war, famine, pandemics, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes — I hope everybody succeeds in putting some practical, meaningful thanks into their own Thanksgiving.  PS

Deborah Salomon is a contributing writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She can be reached at